The Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, round six of the South African Rally Championship, got underway in Brackenfell this evening with a short, 700-metre tarmac special stage in the parking area of the Cape Gate shopping mall.
Watched by a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators, Sebastiaan Klaassens and Cindy Harding (Monster Energy Ford Fiesta) were declared the provisional winners after scoring a maiden national championship special stage win when they recorded the fastest time of 1 min 1,2 sec over the gymkhana-type course.
Second, 2,3 sec behind, were Jannie Kuun and Guy Hodgson (BP VW Polo) with team-mates Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt a further four tenths of a second in arrears.
Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) were fourth, 2,9 sec behind the winners and three tenths of a second ahead of the Sasol Ford Fiesta of John Williams and Cobus Vrey (Sasol Ford Fiesta).
Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Auris), who recorded the second fastest time, and Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries (BP VW Polo) were penalised 20 seconds each for deviating from the route and were relegated to 26th and 28th places overall respectively.
Championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, in the second Sasol Ford Fiesta, were ninth and will have a 5,8 sec gap to make up when the rally continues tomorrow morning. Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Toyota Auris), second in the championship and just a point behind the leaders, were eighth overall and among the class S2000 four-wheel drive cars 1,3 seconds ahead of their main championship rivals.
While the short tarmac special stage counts towards the final rally result, the start order for the first of tomorrow’s six gravel stages in the Grabouw and Caledon areas will be according to the current seeding of the top 10 drivers. This means that Cronje/Houghton will set off first from Imperial Toyota CapeGate, followed by Gemmell/Swan, Poulter/Coetzee, Kuun/Hodgson and Fekken/ Arries.
Fastest in the S2000 Challenge for older specification four-wheel drive cars were 18-year-old Henk Lategan and Barry White (Q8 Oils VW Polo), who were 11th overall. Second in this category were Wilro Dippenaar and Morne du Toit (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota RunX), ahead of current S2000 Challenge leaders Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (BP VW Polo).
Leading the S1600 class for two-wheel drive cars after the opening stage are Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota RunX) with a time of 1 min 7,6 sec. Second were Ashley Haigh Smith and Kes Naidoo (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2), 1,3 sec behind the leaders and eight tenths of a second ahead of Morne Janse van Rensburg/Rikus Fourie (GC Diesel VW Polo).
Two Wheel Drive championship leaders Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee (Total Toyota RunX) finished sixth, 3,2 sec behind the class winners.
Tomorrow’s stages will provide a sterner test of the competitors and will start with a new 23-kilometre forest stage in the Grabouw area at 9.30 am. Four fast gravel stages on private farm roads in the canola and wheat fields in the Caledon area will set the scene for the day’s finale, a short, 1,2-kilometre gravel stage at the Caledon rugby club.
Competitors will overnight in Caledon before the rally restarts on Sunday morning from the Tsogo Sun Hotel, Casino and Spa at 8:45 am. The rally will finish back at the Tsogo Sun on Saturday afternoon after another six gravel stages, four of which will be repeats of Friday stages.