The 2013 South African Rally championship will end after eight rounds with this weekend’s Garden Route Rally in the Western Cape.
After successfully defending his 2012 title by claiming this year’s championship at the previous event, Ford Fiesta driver Mark Cronje will be aiming to improve on his season statistics on Friday and Saturday.
Cronje and navigator Robin Houghton have dominated the championship; their overall victory and S2000 Class honours in the penultimate event of the season was their sixth success in seven starts.
Ford has won every rally so far this year.
The other win went to veterans Jan Habig and Robert Paisley – also in a Fiesta – who finished well down the list under Super Rally rules after a difficult weekend last time out.
There is still some pride to be gained from finishing runners-up in the four-wheel drive S2000 championship, and the Garden Route Rally will be one last chance for Volkswagen and Toyota to prevent a Ford clean sweep.
Among those best-placed to do that are Johnny Gemmell and Caroline Swan in the works Toyota Yaris, who are second in the championship. Toyota’s challenge could also come from Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee in the second ‘official’ Yaris, or Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray (Toyota Auris), who are third in the standings.
CONSISTENT IF UNSPECTACULAR
Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Toyota Yaris) have enjoyed a consistent if unspectacular first season together that has seen them climb to fifth in the championship after scoring in every round.
De Villiers, better known for his Dakar Rally exploits, is in only his second season of rallying with Toyota and has closed the gap to his more experienced rally rivals with every outing.
Volkswagen’s challenge will come from Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries and Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd in the factory Polos.
The Garden Route Mall in George will host rally headquarters, the start and finish on both days and the rally’s only service park. – Drive Times