Brian Joss –
The South African National Rally Championship heads to Port Elizabeth for the fifth round of the series, the Volkswagen Rally , starting today Friday July 17 to Saturday July 18, and the Ford Performance team of Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton are determined to claim their fourth win of the season.
The pair currently leads the championship with 60 points from the past four events, which includes three wins in a row and a second place finish at the previous round, the Bela-Bela Motor Rally in June.
This places them 13 points ahead of reigning champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota). Accordingly, the Ford crew will be intent on extending their championship lead on one of their favourite rallies of the year.
“After the two previous tight and dusty events on the Highveld, I’m really keen to get back into a proper special stage rally through the forests,” Cronje says.
“However, the organisers have introduced numerous changes to the route which is now tighter and more compact.
“There’s no doubt that Leeroy will be pushing hard from the start, as will the VW crews hoping for a win in their own back yard. But we have a great car for this event and are looking forward to the action.”
The teams face 200km of rallying over 12 special stages in and around Port Elizabeth. Six of the stages take place on Friday with the balance scheduled for Saturday.
One of the main changes this year is the repeat running of stages on the same day in order to make the event more accessible to spectators.