Portland boys are on the right track

Warren de Villiers, 19, and Taswell Saayman, 17 both from Portland with international stunt driver and multiple record holder Terry Grant at Killarney.

Two Portland youth spent their weekend in the pit alongside Terry Grant, an international stunt driver and multiple record holder, at Killarney.

Warren de Villiers, 19, and Taswell Saayman, 17, got to experience first-hand the mechanics of the car and speed at the first International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) world rallycross championship in South Africa as part of the Greater Cape Ambassadors Programme (G-CAP), an initiative of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF), in collaboration with SR4A (Safer Roads for all).

The youngsters got to spend time inside Terry’s Range Rover Sport SVR, the fastest of the Land Rover vehicles ever produced.

Its supercharged V8 petrol engine can go from zero to more than 96km/* in just 4.5 seconds while delivering 550 horsepower and 680 nanometers of torque.

This was Taswell’s second visit to the race track through G-Cap.

“It is great. They took me drifting and at one point I thought we were going to fly into the barrier,” he said.

He said they were showed safety measures and how to prevent accidents, use the hand-brake and how the car works.

Taswell said the programme kept youth off the road.

“There is a lot of gangsterism and drugs in our area,” he said.

“Children are easily influenced by this and they are often caught in the crossfire, with shootings,” he said.

Warren had been to the race track before but only to watch.

He would like to follow in the footsteps of his brother who is a mechanic for a car dealership in Century City.

Warren, who is in matric at Sea Point High School, has his learner’s licence and can’t wait to get behind the wheel unsupervised.

He said primary school mates look lost and are either on drugs or in a gang.

Lynn Phillips, secretary of the CPF, said they targeted young people who were interested in fast cars. “They are taught road safety and how to be safe in fast cars,” she said.

Ms Phillips said many of the fatalities which occur as a result of road accidents in Mitchell’s Plain involved young people who did not understand the car they were driving and its speed.

These youth, who make use of these opportunities, become ambassadors, who can relate to their peers and friends, who are drivers, what they have learned.

Ms Phillips said through G-Cap, the youth had fun and were exposed to alternatives to gangsterism and drugs.

Two youth from Parow were also given the same opportunity.

Jody Powell, Terry’s sports agent for the Africa region, said the youth would be changing tyres, polishing cars and experiencing something new.

“If you have not experienced something, you don’t know about it and you can’t aspire to something you were not aware of,” he said. “We want to inspire them to become something within the race track, or even better or a different direction – something that is possible and everything is possible.”