After an absence of over 10 months from the local scene, the VW S2000 team of Marius Swart and Gerard McConkey returned to the roads of Imbil for the International Rally of Queensland.  The result being a clean sweep of both rounds of the Queensland Rally Championship, with the event described as a resounding success by the team.

Sidelined for almost a year whilst rebuilding the engine, all stops were pulled out to complete it in the weeks just prior to the event, with a last minute hiccup when it was discovered that the oil cooler/heat exchanger had a leaking seam, this being the root cause for the overheating problems which forced the rebuild. None was available locally so one had to be flown in from VW Racing South Africa arriving on the Thursday morning before IROQ.

Straight out of the box, with every part of the car now having been rebuilt by Marius, the Polo ran like clockwork, setting competitive times on both runs of the Tarmac Super Special Stage, and starting the day on Saturday in 2nd Place QRC behind Kent Lawrence, the current QRC Leader in his Evo 6.

If recce was any guide, the roads were expected to be rough, but the strength and quality of the Polo was likely to be the teams’ big advantage, necessary to run through the stages faster than the rest.

Initial Stage times were good and consistent, (considering the lack of Stage miles driven by Marius over the past twelve months) but were just slightly down on the pace of Lawrence in his Evo.  The Team had put in a huge effort writing the Pace Notes for this event employing a new system to generate speed and consistency, and they were working brilliantly, giving Marius the confidence to step the pace up as he became more and more comfortable with the car and the notes.

Stage 5 , Million LA, turned out to be pivotal in the event when the team crested a rise to find Lawrence and his Evo tangled in the shrubbery on the outside of a tight right hander, effectively handing the lead to the VW Polo S2000 team.

Results from Day 1 gave the team a solid win, with a 4 minute lead over Cameron Sluice in second and Ian Menzies in Third.

Day 2 brought even better stage times for the team with Marius starting to extract most of the awesome potential of the VW.  Road conditions continued to degrade and the high rate of attrition for the event carried on, with more fall outs due to crashes or mechanicals, but the Polo just got stronger.

Ironically, Marius and Gerard pushed the car through nearly 230km of competitive stages, without a scratch or a hiccup, only to throw the car off the road twice just 3km from the end of the very last stage of the rally, resulting in about a minute of lost time before getting back onto the road and back up to pace.

Ultimately the team came home First QRC again for Heat 2, with a 2minute 19sec lead over Wayne Menzies in the EVO 6 and a further 40 seconds to Ian Menzies in the Falcon, and an Overall time for the two day rally that would have them placed 8th Outright in the ARC field.
The results from this weekend place Swart and McConkey into the lead of the Queensland Rally Championship point score, making the upcoming Capricorn Resort Rally at Rockhampton in July now a “must do” to ensure the title can be secured for 2011

Special thanks from the Team must go to the tireless service crew of Brian Loopstra, Chris Scott from Scott Motorsport and Des Collins for their huge efforts in getting the car prepared before the event, and their professional and precise servicing during the running of the rally.

The S2000 Polo is back – and triumphant!

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