Brian Joss –
Defending champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee drove their Castrol Team Toyota Yaris rallyS2000 to a strong second-place finish in treacherous conditions on the 24th Sasol Rally. The event, which again took place in the area of Mpumalanga around Sabie, Graskop and Nelspruit, was marked by extremely wet and slippery conditions, with the rain bucketing down on day one. Former champions Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Ford) won the rally for their second victory of the season.
“We ended day one just a handful of seconds behind Cronje, but the conditions were extremely slippery and it was easy to make mistakes,” said Poulter after completing the rally at the show grounds in Nelspruit. “We eventually decided to settle for second place, rather than taking unnecessary risks.”
Poulter started the rally second on the road and managed to steer clear of the worst of the trouble.”We know what it takes to win a championship,” explained Team Principal Glyn Hall after the race. “Leaving here with the points for second place in the bag is much better than throwing caution to the wind and crashing out in the process – especially in conditions like we had in the Lowveld.”
Dakar veteran and rally driver Giniel de Villiers, partnered with Carolyn Swan in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris, enjoyed a solid performance on the Sasol Rally, until an engine problem forced the team to retire just 25 km from the end of the event. They were running in third place overall at the time, with a healthy buffer to fourth place behind them.
“It was very disappointing to have Giniel and Carolyn retire so close the end of the rally,” continued Hall. “We were looking good for two podium places, but in rallying you can’t count on anything until the race is over.”
In Class S1600, for front-wheel drive cars with engines of
1 600 cc, defending champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Toyota Etios) started strong, but were reduced to spectators when the diff on their race vehicle failed on day one. They rejoined the rally under super rally regulations on day two, but were unable to score meaningful points.
The class was won by Chad van Beurden (Volkswagen) with Paul Franken in a second Volkswagen in second place. Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden finished third in their Fragram Toyota Etios.
Next up is the Secunda Motor Rally, which takes place on May 15 and 16. . This is a new event on the national rally calendar, though the area has been used for regional rally events in the past. This will be round three of the eight-round South African National Rally Championship.