TEAM TOTAL SET FOR GAUTENG RALLY ACTION
From the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal and the rolling hills of forested lands in Mpumalanga, the third round of the 2013 South African Rally Championship brings the sport’s most talented stars to our country’s economic hub.
The mielie fields and dusty high-speed gravel roads in the Bapsfontein region of Gauteng produces close rally action throughout the racing field, and it makes for a spectator’s paradise as stages are grouped together to make multiple stage spectating possible.
The Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally will be held on Friday 31 May and Saturday 01 June, starting at the Toyota Parts Distribution Warehouse off Alaska Road, Boksburg on Friday at 10h40 and concludes at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy near Bapsfontein on Saturday afternoon at 16h00 with the event’s prize-giving ceremony.
Competitors will tackle 10 timed special stages over 180km of the best rally roads in Gauteng. The event also comprises of two Super Special Stages, both at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy.
Action will be spilt over the two days of competition with five stages each in close proximity to the RallyStar Motorsport Academy. Day One’s action concludes at 16h00 after the traditional Super Special Stage at the exciting Academy gravel road course, and it will restart on Day Two from the Toyota Parts Distribution Warehouse at 08h00 on Saturday morning before heading to the gravel stages near the RallyStar Motorsport Academy once more.
At the head of the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championships are the reigning Champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta S2000), with Team TOTAL’s Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray (Team TOTAL Toyota Auris S2000) in fourth place overall on the Drivers and Co-Drivers Championship and are tied for the Championship lead in the Class S2000 Challenge title with Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin (Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000).
With the Volkswagen factory rally team and the Toyota Motorsport factory team in action in the Eastern Cape earlier this month for a regional event to put their new rally machines through their paces in preparation for this event, it will be intriguing to follow their progress as they both hunt for victory over the fast Ford pairings. The South African rally scene has never been so impressive before!
Team TOTAL is the largest privateer rally squad contesting the 2013 South African Rally Championship, and its three-car entry into this competitive series comprises of Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray (car number #5), Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen (car number #15) and Craig Trott/Janine Lourens (car number #61). Damseaux and Moosa compete in identical Toyota Auris S2000 machines in the ultra-competitive Class S2000 Challenge, while Trott flies the TOTAL South Africa flag in Class S1600 and the Two Wheel Drive Championship.
In last year’s edition of this event, Damseaux recorded third place overall in what was a three-way fight for the overall victory. On the final stage of the event, the rally’s top three finished just 11.8 seconds apart. This year Damseaux aims to repeat that feat and score as many Championship points as possible.
The mist and heavy rains that plagued the Sasol Rally, the previous round of this year’s series, was a battle for survival and not an event for fighting for victory for the Somerset West-based crew. At the end of the two days of demanding competition, his Team TOTAL Toyota Aurius S2000 rally car’s engine was in its death throes and Damseaux did well to nurse it to the finish while collecting valuable Championship points in the process. This event will see Damseaux and his rally machine ready to take on the ten stages with the aggression and determination that has characterized his rally career thus far.
Mohammed Moosa is most certainly on a charge in 2013, and has taken the fight to his rivals. He has set a string of top ten stage times in the two events in 2013, has fought his way up the leader board from early event niggles to push his way into third place overall in the Class S2000 Challenge Championship fight.
The Tzaneen-based entrepreneur is the proverbial “dark horse” going into this event, with rivals (and his team-mate) watching his every move. With electrifying pace, ever-improving reliability of his Team TOTAL Toyota Auris S2000 and the dogged determination that saw him feature as one of the strongest finishers in the Sasol Rally last month and the TOTAL Rally in March 2013, he will be looking for all three elements to come together next weekend to set the rally stages alight with his performance. Come watch him and co-driver Vermeulen fly through the air of the motocross-style jump in the Super Special Stages at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy!
Craig Trott is eight-times Class Champion in the South African National Rally Championship, and that experience and skill means that his rivals regard Trott as “Mister Consistency.” Currently fifth overall in the Class S1600 Championship points leader board for two-wheel drive rally cars, Trott’s speed was deflated with no less than three punctures in two stages alone in last month’s Sasol Rally. This upcoming Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally will see the Durban businessman looking to set his 2013 Championship title ambitions right, and that will mean he and co-driver Janine Lourens will be hunting for a podium performance.
Team TOTAL has chosen the Leopard Conservation Project as their social responsibility and has joined forces to raise awareness of the plight of these elusive predators. The Leopard Conservation Project was created 14 years ago to capture, rehabilitate and release rescued leopards from poaching, poisoning, trapping and over-hunting in southern Africa, and the Project has expanded its role from primarily rescuing these big cats to researching their behaviour and protecting their future population growth through science.
Team TOTAL is the only rally team to actively support an initiative of this kind in South Africa. For more information on the Leopard Conservation Project, please visit their website at leopardcon.co.za.