Chalking up their third consecutive victory in the 2015 national rally championship in the inaugural Secunda Motor Rally sees the Ford Performance pair of Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton leading the points chase by a healthy margin. With 48 points in the bag the team in their Ford Fiesta S2000 is already 19 clear of their closest rivals, defending champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris). What’s more significant is that their performance to date this year is even better than in 2013 when they dominated proceedings with six victories to be crowned champions for the second time.
With five rounds remaining Poulter and Coetzee, on 31 points after a difficult and eventful Secunda Motor Rally, need a win in the next event if they want to keep the Ford pair in their sights. Third on the driver’s championship log with 23 points after two well-earned podiums in the last two rallies is Gugu Zulu, now with Hilton Auffray in the navigator’s seat, in his Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo.
However, he is only 1.5 points clear of Giniel De Villiers and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris), while Henk Lategan/Barry White (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo) is fifth on 12 points –only half a point clear of team mates Thilo Himmel and Armand Du Toit. The shake-up in the Volkswagen Sasolracing team means that Pierre Arries, who partnered Zulu in the first two events of the season but now back alongside Hergen Fekken, is fourth in the navigator’s championship on 16.5 points, behind Houghton (48), Coetzee (31) and Swan (21.5). With only three points separating the top three teams the S1600 championship is hotly contested.
After a steady run and podium finish in the Secunda Motor Rally the Fragram Tools Toyota Etios S1600 pair Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk Van Heerden is the championship leaders on 30 points. They displaced Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo R2) at the top of the log, but the difference is only two points, while reigning S1600 champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios) are third on 27 points after their class victory in Secunda. Chad Van Beurden/Nico Swartz (Beurden Transport VW Polo), after their win on the Sasol Rally, have tumbled down the leader board and are now lying fourth in class on 21.5 points, with Richard Leeke Jnr and Rikus Fourie (ATS Ford Fiesta R2) breathing down their necks on 20 points.
In the NRC4 series the Piet Bakkes and Shaun Visser (Toyota Auris) still lead the class with a paltry nine points after three events, followed by Namibians Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo on seven, with Theuns Joubert /Mari Van Der Walt (Toyota Auris) third with a single point. With five events remaining Toyota still lead the manufacturer’s championship with 119 points, with Volkswagen second on 101and Ford third on 80 points. The next round of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship, the Bela-Bela Rally, will take place on 19 and 20 June in the Limpopo Province.
Photo credit: Dave Ledbitter