Tight at the top of the SA Rally Championship


Tight at the top of the SA Rally Championship 

SA Rally Championship

It’s tight at the top of the SA Rally Championship point standings.  With three of the eight rounds run and the mid-season VW Rally coming up on July 13 and 14 in the Eastern Cape, the top five crews are separated by just 10 points.

Leading overall and in the S2000 class for four-wheel drive cars after back-to-back wins in the opening rounds are Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Sasol Racing Rally Team Ford Fiesta) with 60 points.  Just three points adrift are the Castrol Team Toyota pair of Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan in the S2000 Toyota Auris after a consistent run has seen them score two second place finishes and a sixth.  Third a further four points back are Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey in the second Sasol Ford, whose win in the recent Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally saw them jump two places in the standings.

Six time champion and former factory VW driver Jan Habig is fourth in the privateer Basil Read Ford Fiesta with twice co-driver champion Robert Paisley.  They have 51 points after three successive fourth place finishes.  Fifth is the Dutch/Belgian pairing of Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt in a factory S2000 BP VW Polo with 50 points.  Travelling to South Africa for each event, the Europeans have so far enjoyed more success in their first season in SA than their illustrious team-mates.

Former champions Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries and Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson have struggled to score points in the new-for-2012 VW Polo and are currently 12th and 15th   in the championship, positions that in no way reflect their capabilities.

Leading the new S2000 Challenge for older specification four-wheel drive cars are Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (BP VW Polo).  They are an impressive eighth overall after two top 10 finishes and have 37 points.  Wilro Dippenaar and Morne du Toit (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota RunX) are second in the S2000 Challenge, 25 points behind Zulu and Peskin, while Henk Lategan and Barry White (Q8Oils VW Polo) are third, a further nine points in arrears.

Making up the top 10 overall are Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Grant Martin (S2000 Team Total Toyota Auris) in sixth place with 46 points, Charl Wilken/Greg Godrich (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) seventh with 39 points, Hein Lategan/Johan van der Merwe (S2000 SAC Peugeot 207) ninth with 26 points and Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen (Team Total Toyota Auris) 10th with 25 points.

Surprisingly outside the top 10 is the second Castrol Toyota Auris of Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee.  Much was expected of them this season after their two wins in their first season together in the premier S2000 class in 2011.  Two non-finishes, including losing their car in a fire in the opening round, have put them on the back foot.
Characteristic consistency sees former champion Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX) leading the Two Wheel Drive Championship for S1600 cars.  Despite a non-finish in round two, a win in the opening round and second place in the recent Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally has them on 46 points, four ahead of Nic van der Westhuizen and Henry Dearlove (SA Earthworks Ford Fiesta R2), class winners in round three.  Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Niekerk (Fragram Tools Toyota RunX) are third with 38 points.

Ford, with three wins out of three events, leads the manufacturers’ championship with 298 points, 87 ahead of second-placed Toyota and 91 more than VW.