BMW Car Club Gauteng Wet Skidpan Gymkhana Competition: 26 October 2013
A Gran Day Out
Words by Colin van Son
Images by Antony Miller
At our last few wet skidpan gymkhanas, the sprinklers were more than helped in keeping the skidpan soaked by a few rain clouds above. This time it had rained the night before and I had familiar visions of another set of wet and squishy shoes while doing the timing for the day. Luckily though, this day turned into a lovely sunny day.
For those of you who are new to wet skidpan gymkhanas, a short and tight track is laid out using cones and then participants race against the clock to complete the track in as short a time as possible. But if you hit a cone, you get a two second penalty and if you take a wrong turn and make your own track (otherwise known as a wrong route), you get the slowest correct route time for that course.
With the first course already laid out by 7:30am and driver’s briefing taking place at 7:45am, we get the runs underway at 8:00am sharp. As in the past, three different tracks are laid out during the course of the morning, with the skidpan split in half to make a mirror image of each track – so a left and a right track to give a total of six timed runs for each participant. As the skidpan is wet, the wear on your tyres is non existient.
We started off with a pretty easy course that started with a 270 degree turn out toward the edge of the pan followed by a 90 degree turn up toward the top of the pan into a three cone slalom and a 360 degree turn, then back into the garage.
The early leaders in the BMW Class were BMW Car Club Gauteng Race Series competitor, Mark Jones in his BMW M135i 3-Door, closely followed by gymkhana specialist, Anton Wannenburg in a BMW E36 328i and previous gymkhana winner, Colin van Son also in a BMW M135i 3-Door with another gymkhana specialist in the form of Marco van der Schyff in his BMW E36 328i just knocking on the top three door.
In the Non BMW Class it was Kaidan Athiah in a Subaru WRX STI that surprised everybody by getting out ahead of gymkhana stalwart, Andre Hartman in a Peugeot 208 GTI. Roy Groenendyk in another WRX was running third, a fraction ahead of Gerhard Schutte in a Renault Megane R26.
The second track was a slightly more challenging one which started with a 360 degree turn up to the top of the pan into another three cone slalom into a 180 degree u-turn, followed by another 180 degree u-turn in the opposite direction, into a 360 degree about turn and then back into the garage.
After this track the usual suspects in the BMW Class remained in the same positions but in the Non BMW Class, Andre put in a blistering set of times and moved to the top of this class while early leader Kaidan took a wrong route and killed his chances of a top three finish and moved Roy and Gerhard up a place at the same time.
The third and final track was the most challenging and started with a 90 degree turn midway up the pan into a 180 degree u-turn into a 90 degree turn to the top of the pan into a wide arc along the outside of the pan and then into a 90 degree turn into two consecutive 180 degree turns, a 90 degree turn into a 360 degree pirouette followed by a dash back into the garage.
It was down to this course, it was the fastest of the lot, and it was the one that would determine the winners. The M135i of Mark proved to have superior grip and he posted the fastest pair of BMW times of the course and secured his first place overall at an average time of 34.60 seconds with the scoreboard staying exactly the same for Anton at 35.54 seconds and Colin at 35.75 seconds who came in second and third overall.
In the Non BMW Class, Kaidan pulled out all the stops and went quickest here but it was still not enough to make up for his wrong route earlier and he had to settle for a well fought fourth place at 37.01 seconds behind, Andre at 35.13 seconds, Roy at 35.88 seconds and Gerhard at 36.57 seconds.
We had a great variety of vehicles in attendance – from the sultry roar of the Akrapovic exhaust of a BMW M6 Gran Coupe that was man handled by BMW Clubs Africa President, Ryan Herd to the E46 M3 CSL of previous committee member Reshendren Naidoo.
The wet skidpan is always a great equaliser allowing anything from a compact front wheel drive hatch to an old school E36 to be competitive with some much more powerful machinery. I mean we even had a massive Landcruiser being put through its paces on the skidpan.
We managed to finish the runs at 11:00am and while we collated the results, the participants were allowed to practice the final track untimed. Prize giving was held at 11:15am and the fun runs resumed straight after prize giving until 12:30am with a number of controlled drifts to entertain the spectators.
Look out for our next wet skidpan gymkhana will be Saturday morning 7 December 2013 run by BMW Driver Training.