Defending South African National Rally Champions, Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvéne Coetzee will be aiming to continue their good form on round 5 of the 2015 South African National Rally Championship, which takes place in Port Elizabeth on 17 and 18 July.
The Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 crew’s first victory for the year came on the previous round, which took place in the Limpopo town of Bela-Bela. With this win, the pair moved to within 13 points of the top of the points log. Now the action moves to the Eastern Cape, where they will again be taking the fight to current championship leader Mark Cronje (Ford).
“Leeroy and Elvéne managed to narrow the gap to Mark with their win in Bela-Bela.” said Castrol Team Toyota Team Principal Glyn Hall before traveling to round 5. “However, they still have a lot of work to do if they want to defend their title, starting with the usually very challenging Volkswagen Rally.”
For teammates Giniel de Villiers and Carolyn Swan, who campaign an identical Toyota Yaris S2000 rally car, the 2015 season has brought mixed results. Now, at the mid-way point of the season, the pair is fourth on the points log, just 2.5 points behind Volkswagen’s Gugu Zulu, who currently occupies third place. De Villiers/Swan have built up a 10-point buffer over Henk Lategan (VW) in fifth place, and will be aiming to challenge Zulu on his home event.
In Class S1600, for front-wheel-drive rally cars with engines of 1,600 cc, defending champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle have gotten their season back on track with two victories on the last two rounds. The pair, who campaign a Yato Toyota Etios S1600, had a poor start to the year, but currently lead the championship thanks to their recent return to form. They now lead Matthew Vacy-Lyle and navigator Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Toyota Etios) by four points going into round 5.
Traditionally the Volkswagen Rally has taken place mainly in and around the fearsome Longmore Forest, inland from Jeffreys Bay. Stages such as Culturama and King’s View have become part of the lore of South African rallying, and have often been the scene of epic championship battles. This year, however, the Volkswagen Rally features a more compact layout, and while certain forest stages have been retained, the action moves closer to the windy city of Port Elizabeth itself.
The rally gets under way at noon on Friday, 17 July, with a ceremonial start at the VW Auto Pavillion in Uitenhage. The event consists of 12 stages, with six of these taking place on Friday afternoon, all within a short drive of Uitenhage. On Saturday morning the rally starts with a stage at Buffelshoek, before moving to the Longmore Forest for the stage known as Sinkdam. From there it is back towards Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth for the final stages – including two super special stages, where two cars compete simultaneously – to end the rally in spectacular fashion.