I can vividly recall in my early days of involvement with the BMW Car Club how we only ran one skidpan gymkhana a year and we battled to get more than 20 to 30 cars. Since then the event has kept growing in popularity and at the last Skidpan Gymkhana we had close on 50 cars and this time we superceded this all at 55 cars! In fact, we had to close entries a week early as we usually limit the event to 50 cars and when we were on 49, we suddenly got another 10 entries all at once! Then we had a further 10 people on the waiting list who we couldn’t accommodate.
Given the popularity of the event, what we will be doing in future if making this event open to paid up club members (much like we have done with our annual Concours d’Elegance). No one will be excluded (whether you drive a BMW or not as many club members who are passionate about the brand often have other vehicles too), but if for example the cost on the day is R200 for members then non-members pay R200 plus R350 membership which will give them membership for the membership year (plus member rates at all events while their membership is paid up).
We again involved a dealership, this time Clearwater BMW who hosted the day and put up a fantastic display of BMW Lifestyle and Accessories on the grass area next to the skidpan and brought along a number of their customers for them to try their car control skills in their own pride and joy.
For those new to wet skidpan gymkhana’s, a track is laid out using cones and then participants race against the clock to complete the track in as short a time as possible – if you hit a cone, you get a 2 second penalty and if you make your own track (otherwise known as a wrong route), you get the slowest correct route time for that course. The skidpan is wet so the wear on tyres is absolutely negligible (if at all).
With the first course laid as soon as the morning session on the skidpan had finished, we got the runs underway at 13:00. As in the past, 3 different tracks were laid out during the course of the afternoon with each one getting slightly more difficult and a bit longer. The skidpan is 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.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We used the same 3 tracks we had used at the last skidpan. , each one getting progressively more difficult and a bit longer. To avoid the myriad of “Wrong Routes” we’ve had in the past, we published the routes on the website before the time and I was encouraged to see the number of printouts that were brought with, often given to the navigator on the day. After each track is set up, two demo runs are done to show the participants what to do before the action and entertainment got underway. The GPS co-ordinates of each of the cones have been taken so the tracks can be replicated at any point in the future again.
We started off with a pretty easy course that started with a 270 turn out toward the edge of the pan followed by a 90 degree turn up toward the top of the pan into a 3 cone slalom and a 360 degree turn, then back into the garage. 3 orange cones denote the 360 degree turn with a yellow cone denoting the direction of entry.
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 3 cone slalom on the outside of the pan in a wide arc, into a 180 degree U-turn denoted by 2 cones, followed by another 180 degree U-turn in the opposite direction, into a 360 degree about turn and then back into the garage.
The third and final track was the most challenging and sideways course which 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 tight 90 degree turn into a 360 degree pirouette followed by a dash back into the garage.
We had a great variety of vehicles in attendance with a number of different German marques and a good showing from the Subaru’s who are always entertaining to watch in the wet. The wet skidpan is always a great equaliser allowing a compact front wheel drive hatch to be competitive with some much more powerful machinery.
We managed to finish the runs before sunset and while we collated the results, the participants were allowed to practice the final track untimed. Prizegiving was held at 18:00.
We’ve often had feedback that in the past we only had a Top 3 BMW and Top 3 non-BMW trophies and it is usually the seasoned gymkhana participants that walk away with the trophies. So what we have done now is include a Top 3 ladies class, a Top 3 Clearwater BMW class and then we expanded the Top BMW tropies to the Top 10.
The Trophy winners were as follows:
Marco van der Schyff
BMW 1997 E36 328i
BMW 2009 Z4M Coupe
BMW 2015 F82 M4 COUPE
Marthinus Pieter Visser
BMW 2010 E90 335i
Teuns van Niekerk
BMW 2012 F30 320i
Johann van Wyk
BMW 1998 E36/7 Z3 2.8 Roadster
Colin van Son
BMW 1971 E9 3.0 CSi
BMW E36 325i
BMW 2012 F30 320i
Jared Du Plessis
Shantell van der Schyff
BMW 1997 E36 328i
Subaru 2004 WRX Wagon
Golf 7 Gti
A huge thank you to Bridgestone for making this day possible.