CASTROL TEAM TOYOTA 1-2 IN SEASON-OPENING TOUR NATAL RALLY
- Leeroy Pouter/Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota Yaris S2000) 1st overall
- Hergen Fekken/Carolyn Swan (Toyota Yaris S2000) 2nd overall
- Giniel de Villiers/Greg Godrich (Imperial Toyota Yaris S2000) 4th overall
- Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (Toyota Auris) 1st S2000 Challenge
- Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota Etios)1st S1600 class
Toyota Motorsport got its 2014 South African Rally Championship campaign off to the best possible start by taking first, second and fourth places in the season-opening Tour Natal Rally in the Scottburgh area of KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.
Castrol Team Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota Yaris) were overall winners and first in the premier S2000 class for four-wheel drive cars, finishing the two-day 14-stage event 43.9 sec ahead of team-mates Hergen Fekken and Carolyn Swan and 2 min 55.2 sec ahead of fourth-placed Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich in an Imperial Toyota Yaris.
It was a dominant performance by the team, with Poulter/Coetzee winning all six of Friday’s special stages and leading throughout the two days. Fekken, a two-times national rally champion, was making his first appearance for Toyota and he and Swan ran in second place throughout the rally.
“It was the perfect start to the new season,” said a delighted Poulter, claiming the Yaris’ first national championship rally win in only its second season. “The car ran faultlessly throughout the two days and the improvements we made over the break between seasons really made a difference. It was a tough event, as we have come to expect from the Tour Natal, but we finally achieved the top step of the podium after what has seemed like a long wait.” Poulter and Coetzee last won in the final round of the 2012 season in a Castrol Team Toyota Auris.
Fekken was equally thrilled. “This was my best result in some time and I’m very happy with my performance, especially considering it was with a new car, team and co-driver. Carolyn and I worked very well together and we had a trouble-free run throughout.”
Team principal Glyn Hall gave full credit to his drivers and co-drivers as well as the Toyota Motorsport technical staff. “We put a lot of effort into preparing for this new season. We made some design changes and upgrades within the rules of the competition, which, added to everything we learnt from last year’s debut campaign, made a difference. We now have a much better car and look forward to the rest of the season with confidence.”
Hall pointed out that the weekend’s success followed Castrol Team Toyota’s domination of the recent RFS 450, the opening round of the 2014 Donaldson Cross Country Championship, when the team’s two Toyota Hilux 4x4s, in the hands of reigning champions Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy and Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie, finished first and second.
“We now lead both the national cross country and rally championships, which is a proud achievement for the entire team,” said Hall.
Toyota privateers also excelled, with Namibia’s Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo winning the S2000 Challenge for older specification four-wheel drive cars from Piet Bakkes and Shaun Visser in a Toyota RunX.
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota Etios) were comfortable winners of the S1600 class for two-wheel drive cars, finishing ahead of Willie van Straaten and Scott Howden in a Toyota RunX and Andrew Heine and Robbie Coetzee in a Toyota Auris, to give Toyota a memorable 1-2-3.
Thanks to the overall performance of the official team and privateers, Toyota takes an early lead in its quest for a record 22nd manufacturers’ championship and the 16th in the last 17 years.
The next round of the championship is the Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga on April 11 and 12.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, 4×4 Mega World, FreeM, NGK, Robor, SKF and Spanjaard.