Defending Class S1600 champions – now known as Class R2, South Africa’s premier rally class for 2017 – Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, recorded a convincing victory in the York Rally, Round 2 of the 2017 South African National Rally Championship. The pair wielded their Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Etios with impunity, and lead the R2 fight from start to finish.
Brian Joss – The York Rally, which was formerly known as the Sasol Rally, also served as Round 3 of the FIA’s African Rally Championship (ARC), and as such included cars from African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania. These powerful four-wheel-drive machines have a distinct advantage over the front-wheel-drive Class R2 cars rallied in South Africa, but despite the power and traction deficit, Botterill/Vacy-Lyle became the first crew to win a round of the ARC in a 1600-engined rally car.
“We really had a great event,” said Botterill after completing Stage 14 – a fan-friendly downhill finale, set on the outskirts of Sabie. “Simon was right on the notes throughout the event, the car never missed a beat, and we had a perfectly clean run.”
This year’s York Rally was dominated by Japie van Niekerk and Robin Houghton, driving a superior Class S2000 Ford Fiesta. The crew competed in the Open Class, which is not eligible to score championship points. As such, Botterill/Vacy-Lyle recorded maximum points on Round 2, making it two national victories on the trot.
The event started with the familiar Olifantsgeraamte Stage, near York Timbers’ mill to the north of Sabie. Botterill/Vacy-Lyle immediately set the pace in Class R2, bested only by Van Niekerk/Houghton and the ARC crew of Jaspreet Chatte and navigator Surdeep Panesar (Mitshubishi). They maintained their Class R2 lead throughout the event, eventually winning the event by just over four minutes. Second place went to AC Potgieter and navigator Nico Swartz (Volkswagen), with Jono van Wyk and Scott Howden claiming third in their Ford Fiesta.
“We now have a handy lead in the championship, setting us up perfectly for the rest of the season,” concluded Botterill.
Round three is the Secunda Motor Rally, scheduled for 19 and 20 May. This year’s National Rally Championship features seven rounds, and the season concludes with the Goldfields Rally in the Freestate town of Welkom, on 20 and 21 October.