MIXED RESULTS FOR CASTROL TEAM TOYOTA ON PMC RALLY
- Fourth and seventh in Class S2000
- Retains lead in overall championship
- Hat-trick of wins in Class S1600
Bruce Springsteen may have written about Devils and Dust, but until you’ve been to the PMC Gauteng Rally, you’ll struggle to grasp the true meaning of the lyrics. This was also true for Toyota Motorsport at the event, which formed Round 3 of the South African National Rally Championship, and was contested on the dusty mielie fields around Bapsfontein. Hergen Fekken and navigator Carolyn Swan finished in fourth, with Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee coming home in seventh.
“It was a disappointing rally for us,” says Team Principal Glyn Hall. “We started the year on a massive high, with two wins out of two events, so our expectations were right up there for this event. But while Fekken had a reasonable run, and Poulter still bagged some points, we can’t help but feel that some of the wind has been taken out of our sails.”
Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee started the event with a bang, by posting a time just 2 seconds slower than the eventual rally winners and defending champions, Mark Cronje and navigator Robin Houghton. But it all came unstuck on Stage 2, when the engine of their S2000 Castrol Team Toyota Yaris let go.
“It happened after a long straight section,” explains Poulter. “We were sitting right on the rev limiter in sixth gear for a couple of kilometers. I lifted at the end of the straight, but as soon as I tried to get back on the power, there was nothing.”
The pair was forced to retire for the day, but entered Day 2 under Super Rally regulations – which allow teams that fail to complete Day 1 of the rally to take part on Day 2, with a time penalty for each stage missed on Day 1, and only half points to be scored. They posted excellent stage times throughout the day, winning one stage and proving that, had they not had the engine failure on Stage 2, the result of the rally may well have looked completely different.
Teammates Hergen Fekken and navigator Carolyn Swan also started well. They were just seven seconds off the lead after Stage 1, and with Poulter/Coetzee retiring on Stage 2, the pair inherited second place – a position they held for all of Day 1.
“I was a bit too cautious at the start of Day 2,” said Fekken after the event. “We lost second place and later third, finishing in fourth overall. It is disappointing for us, but I’m happy to walk away with some championship points in the bag.”
Castrol Team Toyota remains in the lead of the overall championship, with Fekken taking over at the top of the table, and Poulter now in second place.
Glyn Hall remains upbeat about the team’s outlook: “We’ve already found the problem with the engine and put a fix in place. We’ve proven that we can win rallies, so all we have to do now is keep going.”
In Class S1600, Toyota Etios R2 driver, Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle, achieved a hat-trick of wins this season – placing them firmly in command of the championship. The pair has lead every rally from start to finish this year, and the PMC Gauteng Rally was no exception.
“The Toyota Etios has been an amazing car so far this season,” says Botterill. “Winning three rallies on the trot is beyond our wildest expectations, and we’re very happy with the way our season is going.”
With defending champion Clint Weston (Citroen C2 R2) failing to score significant points on any of this year’s events, Botterill has stolen a march on the championship that may prove unassailable if his current form continues.
Next up is the Volkswagen Rally in Port Elizabeth, which takes place on 11 and 12 July in the Eastern Cape. This event marks the mid-point of the season, and can prove a key rally in terms of determining the outcome of this year’s championship.
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, 4×4 Mega World, FreeM, NGK, Robor, SKF and Spanjaard.