The final day of the final round of the 2012 SA National Rally Championship started in bright sunshine in the Wilderness this morning with championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in the Sasol Racing Ford enjoying a one minute lead over second placed Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in a BP Volkswagen Polo.
After the first two special stages in the forests above Knysna the Ford pair still lead from Kuun/Hodgson with BP Volkswagen teammates Hans Weijs/Bjorn Degandt winning both stages of the morning and moving from fifth to third overall.
Punctures which dominated yesterday’s five stages were again a feature this morning with Cronje/Houghton being among those slowed by a flat wheel. Their main championship rivals Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan (Castrol Toyota Auris) are sixth after the first two special stage, and have little chance of winning the championship unless Cronje/Houghton fall out of the event. Even then Gemmell/Swan must finish in the top two positions.
Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries (BP Volkswagen Polo) fourth overnight dropped out in special stage seven, the second stage of today, with undisclosed problems.
In the two-wheel drive S1600 championship overnight leaders Ashley Haigh-Smith/ Craig Parry (Castrol/BP Ford Fiesta R2) increased their lead over second placed Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX) by nearly five minutes. Clint Weston/Pierre Jordaan second overnight dropped back to third only 17 seconds behind Trott/Coetzee.
Four special stages, three of which are repeats, remain in the Knysna forests before crews head back to Wilderness Beach Hotel for the final TV podium of the 2012 season.