Toyota Motorsport has entered a strong three-car team of S2000 Toyota Auris cars in the Volkswagen Rally, which takes place in the Eastern Cape on Friday and Saturday (July 13 and 14).
Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan, currently second in the South African Rally Championship after three rounds, head the Toyota challenge in a Castrol Team Toyota Auris. Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee will be in a second Castrol Auris, while Red Bull athlete Giniel de Villiers and Ralph Pitchford will make their first appearance of the season in a brand new Imperial Toyota Auris.
Gemmell and Swan are enjoying a successful first season together and have come close to winning twice already, losing out by seconds to championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta), winners of the first two rounds Cronje and Houghton have 60 points to the 57 of the Toyota pair.
“Johnny has come close to winning all three rounds so far this year. He’s been right on the pace all season and the Toyota Auris has the speed. He’s been just seconds away from winning on two occasions and only a puncture prevented him from another possible win in the last round,” said team principal Glyn Hall.
Poulter and Coetzee, in their second season together in the premier S2000 class for four-wheel drive cars, have yet to realise the promise they showed in winning two rounds last year. Two non-finishes including losing their car in a fire in the opening round, have put them on the back foot.
“Whenever he’s had a trouble-free run, Leeroy has been right on the pace of the stage winners and it’s just a matter of time when he and Elvene are back on top of the podium,” said Hall.
“Even though I thought there was no more to come from the car, we’ve had encouraging results in testing since last month’s Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally. With a new set-up and a couple of new parts we have found some more speed, and we hope to take full advantage of this in the Eastern Cape. We need to score wins if we are to take this championship. Success doesn’t come to you, you have to go out and take it.
Commenting on the arrival of the third car, Hall said: “We’re delighted to have a Toyota rally car for Giniel to continue his rally career after his debut in the championship with Ralph last year. Thanks to the generous support of title sponsor Imperial Toyota, as well as Duxbury Netgear and Innovation – all of whom made it possible for us to enjoy our Dakar Rally success with the Toyota Hilux – we are able to mount a serious challenge for the remainder of this season.”
Heading a strong privateer Toyota challenge are the Team Total Toyota Auris S2000 rally cars of Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Grant Martin and Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen, who are respectively sixth and 10th in the championship. Team Total’s Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee currently lead the Two Wheel Drive Championship for S1600 cars in their RunX
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Duxbury Netgear, NGK, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.