Brian Joss –
The Sasol Rally, round two of the South African National Rally Championship, is taking place this weekend – and Castrol Team Toyota is looking forward to a good result on what is arguably South Africa’s premiere rally event.
“We had a very good pre-rally test session with both S2000 Castrol Team Toyota Yaris rally cars,” says team principal Glyn Hall. “While the cars certainly performed well on round one in Natal, there’s always room for improvement and we think we’ve found that extra bit of magic that we’ll need in the Lowveld.”
Castrol Team Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee are the defending champions, and finished a commendable second on the opening round of the season, behind former champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in a Ford. The Toyota pairing is looking forward to the spectacular rally roads around the towns of Sabie and White River, with the traditional Super Special Stage – where two cars compete head to head in Nelspruit – thrown into the mix.
“Everything ran well for us on the Tour Natal,” explains Poulter. “But we drew number one on the road for the start, and we never quite made up the time we lost on those first three stages.”
New teammate Giniel de Villiers, Toyota’s Dakar veteran, will again be paired with navigator Carolyn Swan in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 rally car. The pair finished fourth on the opening round of the championship – an excellent result considering that the Tour Natal was their first time together in a rally car.
“It didn’t take us long to settle into an easy rhythm,” comments De Villiers. “Carolyn is obviously very experienced, and now I’ve just got to get used to the way she calls the notes. But we went well in KZN, and I’m looking forward to an even better result in the Lowveld.”
In Class S1600, defending champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle finished third on Round One, behind the fellow Toyota Etios crew of Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden. Both Toyota S1600 crews will again be in action on the SASOL Rally.
The Sasol Rally takes place on April 17 and 18, in the area around the towns of Sabie, White River and Nelspruit. Friday will see seven stages, with eight being run on the Saturday. Total race distance for the rally is 206 km.