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Inaugural SAGMJ Cape Annual Mystery Rally

A French Affair

By Patrick Vermaak

The South African Guild of Mobility Journalists presented their 1st Cape Mystery Rally on Sunday 14 August 2022, and it was Gordons Bay based Elzaan Mostert, daughter of Hennie and Reinett Mostert, who used all her local knowledge in planning the 95km route that entrants had to navigate whilst finding answers to the numerous riddles and questions included in the cryptic schedule.

Leading the 41 teams from the Franschhoek Motor Museum was a pristine 1968 Renault R8 Gordini as a fitting tribute to the King of Paarlberg, Hennie Mostert. The “original” 1967 Gordini safely tucked in amongst the other exhibits at this very impressive facility celebrating transport in Southern Africa.

Wayne Harley, curator of the Franschhoek Motor Museum, started each team at two minute intervals but by the time they reached the first stop at Glen Carlou Restaurant it was pretty much each for their own. Filling glasses in order to earn their first mystery object had Alcino Carnou and his staff enjoying each attempt.

Then the teams headed for the Drakenstein Lion Park, a facility that does sterling work for abused predators from all over the world, bu they were looking for the only non-Lion in the park and Glenda Snyders would only part with the correct answer once a donation was made. With adequate time available some even decided to find Tana the Bengal Tigress in person!

Finding the stairs to nowhere and the Peace Angel at the Spice Route led to comical responses as each team had to submit a photograph of at least one team member in front of the Angel. Keeping their “Baby” (a chicken egg) intact for the 95km journey resulted in some clever roosting options in each car.

Not many realised the significance of the date as 14 August represented Afrikaanse Taaldag and visiting the Afrikaanse Taalmonument was a new experience to many. The final stretch to Krönenburg Estate making this a most interesting introduction to Paarl – Franschhoek Valley.

Passing by the Jan Phillips Mountain Drive reminded of the legendary Paarl Hillclimb and the many Special Stages which tested competitors young and old. Present at the start of the event was two very jovial senior citizens as day visitors and it took quite a while for competitors to realise that this was in fact SA Motorsport legends Ewold and Minota-Ann van Bergen (Langebaan).

Nick Middelmann (Tokai) adding further history by having the very first race car of Ewold van Bergen entered in the vent itself. The 1936 BMW 319/2 considered the first of its kind in South Africa and after a painstaking 16 year rebuilt this was the first event for the car in more than 70 years – and it reached the finish without missing a beat.

Ewold and Minota-Ann van Bergen (Langebaan) became the first to be inducted into the SAGMJ Hall of Fame for their exemplary achievements in South African Motorsport. Their respective awards presented by Carl Wepener (SAGMJ President) and Dirk Gallowitz (SAGMJ Chairman).

Though the event itself was meant to fun the inevitable desire to win saw everyone trying extremely hard to unravel each mystery and given the extremely close result in points everyone should now be experts on what makes the Franschhoek Valley special!

Colin Greyvenstein and Megan Woodward the eventual winners in their Crankhandle Club 1963 Jaguar MkII 3.8 with Mark and Benita Palmer second in their Toyota Fortuner and completing the podium was Erik and Retha Marais in their Imali Express Toyota Lexus RX350.

Paarl based Michael Ramshaw and Uwe Pey gave an excellent account of themselves in the Paarl Toyota Cross Xi Hybrid in fourth spot with Louis Van Eyssen and John de Kock fifth for Motus Renault Paarl in their Renault Kiger. The top six completed by Thorsten and Doreen Pey in their Selbourne Estate Land Rover Discovery 4.

Hannes du Preez and Nic Louw proved that the locals certainly know their area by placing the Paarl Toyota Land Cruiser 300 seventh and seventh placed Leon and Monique Engelbrecht performed brilliantly in the Hyundai N1 City Kona N. The Stellenbosch based couple spent the entire day disguised as Stig and the response was hilarious as both competitors and general public simply had to have their photographs taken with them.

Marius Aylward and Desire van Deventer brought their Mercedes GLE 450 home ninth and the top ten was completed by ace racing driver, Deon Joubert, and legendary motoring scribe, Ferdi de Vos, in the Honda SA Civic RS. Possibly the slowest event the two have ever contested, but they looked well pleased with their result.

The West Coast was well represented with Gerrie Smit and Charles Smith prepared for both Afrikaans and English challenges in their Velddrif based Toyota Starlet whilst Elani Botha and Belinda Louloudis were the only all lady team present in their Paardeberg Isuzu Vredenburg Chery Tiggo 8. Most encouraging was the presence of so many individual dealers and manufacturers and most expressed an interest to expand their future involvement.

Renault had more cameras present than an F1 team at a Grand Prix and a number of classic answers found it’s way into the results. Most puzzling though was the fact that almost nobody could identify the Ewold van Bergen BMW as the Matchbox ( a name that spectators gave the little square racing car during it’s era on SA Racetracks in 1957). Many actually asked the question whilst standing next to it during the event. Only seven knew that 14 August was Afrikaanse Taaldag!

Cars 15 (André Grewe) and 25 (Hughwinn Saaiman) won the worst handwriting award whilst cars 16 (Annelie Smith) and 28 (Elandri la Grange) shared the neatest handwriting award.

The event culminating in a fund-raising auction at Krönenburg Estate (home to former Paarl motorsport legend Jurgen zu Bentheim) and given the response from all involved the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists with most certainly be presenting another Cape Mystery Rally in 2023.