Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan return to the scene of their triumph in last year’s event when they line up their all-new Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 at the start of the national championship Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on Friday (July 19).
The 2012 championship runners-up are coming off an excellent second place in the recent Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally in only the third outing of the new-for-2013 four-wheel drive Yaris and are highly motivated to give the unique latest version of a long line of successful Toyota rally cars its maiden victory. Gemmell also won the VW Rally in 2010 in a Castrol Team Toyota Auris.
They will be ably backed by team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee who recorded an impressive second place in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris in the rain-drenched Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga in April.
Completing Toyota Motorsport South Africa’s strong three-car challenge in the fourth round of the South African Rally Championship will be Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich in the Imperial Toyota Yaris.
De Villiers has been getting to grips with his new car since its first outing in the Sasol Rally and the Dakar Rally star will be looking to improve on his and Godrich’s encouraging fourth place in the recent Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally.
The VW Rally marks the halfway point of the championship and all three crews will be looking to improve their current positions. Gemmell and Swan are fourth, Poulter and Coetzee are fifth and De Villiers and Godrich are seventh and sixth respectively in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships.
“Johnny and Carolyn had a good win here last year in the Auris and we need to build on this success with the new Yaris,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “We have improved the car since its last outing and all three examples will have an engine upgrade, something we have been working on all year.
“The cars will also have a new front bumper homologated for this event. We have been using the production Yaris bumper up to now as we did not have time to develop and test a new version before we introduced the new rally car. It is a very important component. There are aerodynamic advantages, both regarding the front bumper and also affecting the complete car.
“The Eastern Cape event is essentially a fast, forest rally, so we need everything we can get performance-wise,” Hall added. “We’ve also incorporated some more suspension changes and, although we’ve done some testing in Gauteng, we’ll also be making full use of the scheduled shake-down stage on local roads on Thursday (July 18) to ensure the cars are ready for Friday’s action.”
The VW Rally will start from the VW AutoPavilion in Uitenhage at 12.00 on Friday (July 19) with the last of the day’s seven special stages being a town stage on tarmac in Jeffrey’s Bay.
There will be another seven special stages on Saturday with the action starting at 08.00 from the Fountains Mall in Jeffrey’s Bay and ending at Port Elizabeth’s King’s Beach from around 14.15. There will be a podium ceremony and prize-giving at the finish at 15.45.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.