Article and Pictures by Evan Rothman.
I will stick to my theory that rally drivers are the best competition drivers in the world. Sebastien Loeb, who needs no introduction, is the world’s most successful motorsport star in history. Plus, he is also very quick in a Le Mans Series racer and Formula One car. To boot, he can also lap a racing motorcycle pretty quickly too.
Not only him, but also Stephane Sarrazzin and Carlos Sainz on the international stage. In South Africa, Serge Damseaux, Mark Cronje and Leeroy Poulter are all proven circuit racing aces too, and the latest to add his name to this list is Jon Williams.
A Team Sasol Ford Fiesta S2000 driver in the South African Rally Championship, and 2009 Pirelli Star Driver Academy winner, Williams has this year participated in two circuit races in for Team Sasol in a Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
The latest of his performances was sharing a drive in a two-hour endurance race around the tight and tricky Zwartkops Raceway, outside of Pretoria, Gauteng.
Against competitors who’ve raced all season long in their cars, up against machinery more powerful and suited to the technical race track, Williams and his team-mate Richard Pinard (the team’s regular driver) set the cat among the proverbial pigeons when they blasted to a podium result.
Once the sun had set, once the brakes were beyond faded and the energy levels were sapped from the day’s efforts, Williams lapped the Subaru to within the top three times of the race to prove my theory.
Sideways, aggressive and on the limit, it was a spectacle to witness the versatility of this rally ace on the circuit; and the racers were both surprised and stunned when he came whizzing past them…
The 2011 South African Rally Championship was not the easiest of seasons for the Cape Town-based youngster, but fine performances and consistent top ten stage times to finish the season fifth overall in the Championship standings.
What will 2012 bring for Jon? Stage wins and podium finishes, thinks this journalist. Perhaps more circuit races too, but for rallying’s sake we hope you stick to the mud and dirt!