Tjaart Conradie and Kesevan Naidoo ended on the podium in the Two-Wheel Drive SA Rally Championship, enjoying their best outing of the season after briefly leading before a puncture put paid to their first win of the year.
The Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, round 7 of 8 in the SA Rally Championship, started well for the Silverton Engineering-backed Toyota Auris team, running second to local rival Ashley Haigh Smith in his Ford Fiesta. As night fell over Cape Town, two tarmac stages got underway.
Immediately after the start of the final stage, the Auris’ alternator failed, leaving Conradie to run laps of the Killarney race circuit without the benefit of lights! With the engine ecu not fully functional, the Pretoria-based driver just got to the overnight parc ferme, worried whether the car would start the following morning.
Camaraderie within the championship saw Conradie’s rivals help bring the Auris to life and the fight was on after replacing the alternator in service.
“We had the right pace a good rhythm on Saturday. The stages were great and we started to pile on the pressure. I passed Ashley broken down in stage 7 but the implication never even registered”, said Conradie. “I was going hard with 20km left when we had the puncture. I wanted to save the suspension so we stopped to change the wheel and lost 5 minutes”.
The pair dropped to 3rd in class where they stayed until the finish. “We won three of the 9 stages and I’m happy with that after the kind of season we’ve had. It was a great rally”.
Naidoo was also happy with their outing. “Losing time in the night stage really put us under a lot more pressure and we had to work a lot harder. This event was a clear indicator that we have the pace to run at the front. I’m disappointed that we didn’t win”.
The final outing of the season is in Polokwane on 22nd and 23rd October