Get 35 cars together in the dunes, and you will always have fun. And that is exactly what the third event in the Cooper Dust Series: Western and Southern Cape was. Fun. From the infamous Suzuki of Oom Willie Mostert, to Dino Burnett finally managing to take Kobus Vermeulen’s Cruiser over a huge dune, each and every competitor enjoyed the sand at Struisbaai to the extreme.
This event was a combined event for the Western and Southern Cape. Apart from the obvious joy of driving dunes that are slightly different and definitely more challenging than those in Atlantis, there was some major competition, with the three top finishers in each region booking their spot in Van Wyksvlei for the national final. Moreover, the wildcards were also decided to have a final list of 10 competitors from each region, to go and meet up with the 10 from 7 other regions throughout South Africa to see who can dethrone the Van Zyl-brothers from Vredendal.
The day started with all teams getting a random set of coordinates to navigate to in the dunes, and to find the right one and mark it on their cards. Some people had the difficult task of trying to figure out how their GPS’s work, and to see whether they can accurately and effectively navigate the dunes.
In between these points there were 4 obstacles that gave teams the chance to test their mettle in some of the more challenging parts of the dunes. First up, the Minefield.
Hosted and run by Denille and Angelique de Kock of the Cape 4×4 Challenge Club, this event asked competitors to manoeuvre their vehicles between flags and place a ball on each flag – bearing the colour of the flag in mind to score points in this way. Obviously it is not straightforward and some tight and angled inclines made it difficult, to say the least. Oom Willie and Dreyer van Niekerk were the two who scored the highest and set the bar for the rest of the competitors.
Next up there was a figure 8 with speed and knowledge of your vehicle of the essence. The team from B&M Ford in Bredasdorp came out in full force to host this obstacle, and all competitors were treated to a boereworsrol and cooldrink as they lined to tackle the course. But it was not all straightforward driving, with a mandatory stop at the bottom of a little dune, catching out more drivers and causing some valuable seconds being lost. Dino Burnett lead the pack on this obstacle and the FJ Cruisers were left to play second fiddle to his souped up Land Rover Discovery (with more than a few tricks under the hood).
The next obstacle was a technical driving obstacle similar to the Minefield where Ashley Wilson of JVE Engineers read them their rights. The placement of the flags meant that teams had to get their vehicles between them in just the right way before heading off to the next one. It was not too difficult, as a number of competitors got the full 100 points on offer and could head with some confidence into the final obstacles.
The last obstacle in the dunes was the Progressive Dune Charge where Elrico Koen of Elrico motors ran the show. Teams could start at one of two spots, dependent on their engine (petrol being closer to the dune, and diesel being a car length back) and try and get as high up the dune as possible. Once again Oom Willie’s Suzuki reigned supreme bagging the full 100 points, with 9 other teams coming up just short, but still walking away with 75 points in their pocket.
After these obstacles, teams were then required to check in at the final checkpoint for a further two obstacles. First up was a time trial where you really had to know your stuff to get up and over dunes and around sharp turns to set your time. We are not saying anything about which brand of tyre debeaded the most on this obstacle, but it can be said with complete honesty, that not one Cooper Tyre debeaded and they all came through with flying colours…. Here, it was once again Dino Burnett setting the fastest time, with Oom Willie a close second. Dries du Toit also showed that a diesel can play in the sand with third fastest time of the day, and Charles Muller’s Lexus Hilux made the extra kW count.
The final obstacle of the day was an immense dune charge. In 2018, Oom Willie made history by being the first car that we know of, and that people that know, also know of, that made it up the huge dune all the way to the top. This year, with the wind blowing the dunes completely deurmekaar, it was clear that no vehicle will be able to make it all the way up without a huge fight. And the dune charge also proved to be a big leveller for all involved. There were a multitude of starting points in front of the dune face, and all you had to do was pick one, and reach the marker at the top. Sound easy enough. But the fact that only 4 of the 35 vehicles made it to the top, and none scoring more than the 40 points bagged by Oom Willie and Charles Muller, proved that this dune is not one to be taken lightly.
In the end, after tabulating the scores and lining everything up, no-one was surprised to see Oom Willie taking top honours, with Dino Burnett taking the second podium spot, and Charles Muller third in the Western Cape. However, seeing as oom Willie and Dino both already have their spots booked in Van Wyksvlei, we had to move down the log for the next qualifiers. The fourth placed Johan van Zyl, also already has his spot booked as reigning champion, so Dries du Toit was the next qualifier. After him Danie Lötter also qualified earlier in the year which left the door open for Louis Jordaan to grab the third qualifying spot. The wildcard-spot was claimed by Kobus Vermeulen.
The final 10 for the Western Cape are:
Dries du Toit
Johan van Zyl (defending champion)
Ruaan Huysamen topped the Southern Cape podium, with Marius Heyneman (the man without a co-driver) and Jacques Potgieter takind second and third. With Jacques Potgieter having already qualified for the final, Warren Hoek scooped up the next spot for the Southern Cape to go to the finals. Anton Smith grabbed the Wildcard spot for the Southern Cape.
The final 10 for the Southern Cape are:
Jaco van der Merwe
A big thanks to Cooper Tyres for their continued support and helping us to make this event a success. B&M Ford from Bredasdorp, Cape 4×4 Challence Club, Elrico Motors, JVE Engineers and Team Offroad for helping us run the obstacles.