Story: Evan Rothman
With the speed to rival the factory teams, with a balanced and experienced crew in charge of the Salom Volkswagen Polo S2000, Theuns Joubert and co-driver Carl Peskin have proved to be very quick indeed. HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS spoke to Theuns Joubert after the recent Rally of South Africa in Ermelo.
H&H: How was the Rally of South Africa for you? What happened in the event?
TJ: “Challenging! We had a slow start and decided to pick up the pace in SS3 (Jessievale). We had a fast and clean run until about 17km from the end of the stage. (Our halfway time of this 56km-long stage was 18min). We hit a big rock lying in the road on a right 6 or 7, and I think this damaged the lower control arm on our Salom Volkswagen Polo S2000.
“About 13km from the end of stage we had some hanging dust and the setting sun that affected our visibility, and we hit a huge boulder lying right on the edge of the road with the right rear. I said to Carl [Peskin, the co-driver] that we have a flat tyre, but I would drive it through the remainder of the stage… We had a BIG surprise when we decided to stop to investigate the tyre 2km later to find NO wheel, shock or driveshaft at the right rear of the car!”
H&H: After a disappointing Sasol Rally and now a second DNF in Ermelo, what will you do to top the privateers again in the next round?
TJ: “It won’t be easy with this level of competition, but we’ll focus on finishing the remaining events in a top eight position. Bear in mind that we have picked up our pace significantly and with that comes the risk of damaging the car and subsequent non-finishes.”
H&H: How is your car going? Are you up to speed in it now?
TJ: “I must say that the guys at Volkswagen Racing are doing a great job with the preparation of the car, and it is definitely faster than it was last season. I think the stage times definitely show that I’m getting used to the faster car, but we’ll get some more pace as the season progresses.”
H&H: You have a new co-driver for 2010, and this new partnership looks to be working very well. Are you adjusting to each other’s style now?
TJ: “It definitely works VERY well and our pace and stage times confirms that. I’m positive that we’ve adapted and we’ve found our rhythm in the car; we have to convert this into points though!”
H&H: The speed in S2000 now is incredible: miss a gear change and you drop a place…
TJ: “With 18 entries we knew this would be the case! You have to stay focused and drive as hard as possible to keep your position, but with this comes the possibility of DNFs.”
H&H: Who do you see as your biggest rival for the rest of the 2010 season?
TJ: “It will be tough to single out one driver, but I would say Japie van Niekerk and Evan Hutchison. Japie for pace and Evan for consistency.”
H&H: Now we are at the halfway point of the South African Rally Championship, how do you see your season panning out?
TJ: “We’ll have to finish the remainder of the events in the top eight, with the emphasis on FINISH.”
H&H: The gap between the factory and privateer S2000 crews is getting wider and wider…
TJ: “With more experience than most of the privateer crews, huge budgets and more superior works machinery and back-up, I wouldn’t expect anything less… And, of course, the crucial
question of who pays for the bill plays a major role.”
H&H: Class A6 cars are closing the gap to the Class S2000 runners ….
TJ: “If we take into account the pace in S2000 and the resulting damages to the cars and the subsequent loss of time I don’t think that statement is correct. One must also keep in mind that the change to S2000 for a crew is huge and it takes some time to adapt to the all wheel drive style and that would result in slower stage times as well.”
H&H: Who will win the next event?
TJ: With the competition as fierce as it is at the top, it will be easier to predict what the rally commission’s next rule change will be… All I can say is that this is a thrilling season for the fans and the competitors alike. See you all at the Volkswagen Rally, where we’ll be sure to get the answer to this question!