Lady Luck Deserts The Young Guns
Photo: Richard and Henry.
A run of bad luck has continued for the Young Guns, and they were forced to retire their Speedglas Welding Helmets Fiesta whilst leading the Electrothread Rally.
The event, Round Five of the National Rally Championship, played out in the Bapsfontein and Cullinan area on August 17 and 18, with four stages on Friday and seven on Saturday, with a total ‘race’ distance of about 150 km.
Richard Leeke and Henry Köhne – aka the Young Guns – got off to a good start on Friday and despite being first on the road (and therefore taking on the unloved role of “street sweeper”) they recorded the second-fastest time in the premier R2N class in two of the three opening stages.
“We were flat out virtually all the time,” commented Leeke. “We really didn’t leave anything in reserve!”
The disadvantage of being first became an advantage on the fourth stage and with night having descended and the wind having dropped (leaving the dust hanging in the air), they were able to blitz the opposition to move into a lead they felt they’d be able to defend the next day. With a 23 second advantage over the championship leader Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle, the Young Guns went to bed full of hope.
Stage five went according to plan and they only lost a couple of seconds to Botterill/Vacy-Lyle, who were clear favourites, having won the last three rallies in succession. Stage Six – the 13,1 km Triple S Panelbeaters – was less satisfactory and they lost more than a second per kilometre. Suddenly their lead was slashed to little more than six seconds, and the question was, would they be able to defend it?
But it became a moot point on the next stage and the Young Guns, giving their all as usual, encountered an exposed rock at speed about 10 kilometres in, the impact with the underside of the car as the front suspension compressed and reduced ground clearance punching a hole in the sump. Within seconds the engine’s lubricant drained away, the damage signalled shortly thereafter by the death rattle of the engine bearings…
“To make things worse, the car then caught fire, as did the dry grass,” added Köhne, “but fortunately we were able to bring it under control quickly and prevent any further damage.”
Concluded Leeke: “We were trying really hard and that is sometimes how it goes when you have to push. I think we could’ve hung on to our lead until the finish and at worst finished second, to keep our championship hopes alive…but whichever way it turned out it would’ve made for a great dice to the finish for R2N honours!”
The Young Guns have been promising themselves a new engine for a while, and now they will definitely have one for the next event. With it, they hope to recover some pride and give the main sponsor, Speedglas Welding Helmets, and all they others some extra exposure in the last two events of the year.