The 2014 South African National Rally Championship comes to a close with the all-new Bela-Bela Motor Rally in Limpopo Province on November 21 and 22. Appropriately, in what has been an absorbing pot boiler of a championship, spread over eight rounds and six provinces, the 10-special stage two-day finale will be centred on the historic town of Bela-Bela (“the pot that boils’ in the local language, Setswana), formerly known as Warmbaths, whose name is derived from the geothermic hot springs around which the town is built. Clerk of the course Willie Du Plessis promises a tricky contest that will require competitors to be on their toes.
“There will be no relaxing in this last event of the season. We have the unique situation where this is the first national championship rally to be staged in the area, so it will be brand new for everyone. The route is quite tight and very tricky in places; it’s not a high-speed rally, but there are some long straights where the drivers can exercise their right foot and explore the extent of their bravery,” he said. Apart from a two-pass reconnaissance run of the route on Thursday, November 20, which is open to all competitors but not obligatory, the 10 gravel special stages will be virgin racing territory for all. There will be four stages on Friday, with a ceremonial start from the Bela Mall in Mark Street at 13:00.
Rally headquarters will be at the Forever Resort and the single service area will be right across the road at the old caravan park. There will be an overnight stop at Bela-Bela on Friday before the rally restarts for the final six special stages at 09:00 on Saturday. The rally will finish at around 15:30 on Saturday at the Forever Resort in Bela-Bela.
The traditional TV podium ceremony and champagne spraying will take place at 16:30 and there will be an official end-of-season prize-giving at the Forever Resort Conference Centre at 19:00. The longest special stage is 27 kilometres (stage six, repeated as stage 9 on Saturday) and the shortest is 10 kilometres (stage 2, repeated as stage 4 on Friday). A specific effort has been made by the organisers, the Rally Commission of Motorsport South Africa, to create a compact event that makes it as easy as possible for spectators to watch stages and visit the service park without having to travel great distances.
The total stage distance for the two days is 176 kilometres and the open sections linking the stages add up to just 98 kilometres. Virtually every stage is just 10 kilometres away from the central rally HQ and service park in Bela-Bela. “As always, we have to thank the city fathers and the local community for their enthusiastic support and co-operation in bringing this event to Bela-Bela for the first time. We also are indebted to the landowners for allowing us to use their private roads, both to access the special stages and for the special stages themselves,” added Du Plessis.