- Second overall for Leeroy Poulter/Elvne Coetzee
- Poulter extends overall lead in championship
- Fourth successive Class S1600 win for Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle
It was a weekend of mixed results for Toyota Motorsport around the Volkswagen Rally, which took place around Port Elizabeth on 11 and 12 July, 2019. The event saw championship leader Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvne Coetzee extend their lead, because of a stunning second place finish, despite a tough start to their rally.
“We had lots of issues with dust at the start,” explains Poulter. “Stage One would be a twisty affair close to the Oval, and we wound up driving into our own dust a couple of times. In addition, we had a lot of dust coming into the vehicle, also it ended up costing considerable time.”
The pair battled on despite the dust, and were able to slot into second place behind the eventual winners, Ford Fiesta driver Mark Cronje and navigator Robin Houghton. Poulter/Coetzee traded blows using the Ford pairing throughout the event’s 15 stages, but eventually needed to accept second overall.
“Obviously we’d have preferred victory,” reckons Team Principal Glyn Hall, “but another place on the VW Rally is always welcome. Which performance puts Leeroy comfortably within the lead from the championship, with four events to visit.”
Poulter started the weekend tied for that championship with his Castrol Team Toyota teammate Hergen Fekken. Unfortunately a severe misfire put paid to Fekken’s effort soon after the start of rally, preventing him from taking further part in the event.
Giniel de Villiers and navigator Greg Godrich, within the Imperial-supported Toyota Yaris S2000 started the big event exceptionally well. They posted competitive stage times throughout The first day, and was in an exciting dice for third place with the Dutch and Belgian Volkswagen pairing of Hans Weijs and Bj?rn Degandt.
“I reckon it was Giniel’s best rally to date,” says Hall. “This type of pity that their great run was cut short first by a misfire, followed by other engine problems – they showed their true pace this weekend, and I’m certain we’ll see some great is a result of Giniel and Greg prior to the months are over. We’ll be investigating the reason for both Giniel’s and Hergen’s misfires, and put a fix in position prior to the Cullinan Rally.”
De Villiers/Godrich’s race time once they exited the big event was good enough to bag 7.5 points under Super Rally rules.
In Class S1600, for front-wheel drive cars with engines up to 1600 cc, it had been the young Durbanite Guy Botterill who again drove his Yato-sponsored Toyota Etios R2 to the top step of the podium. Botterill, with navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle beside him, started with a bang, taking the early lead on Day One. But a suspension problem cost the pair some time in the end of the day, plus they started Day Two with a deficit of 18 seconds.
Day Two converted into a massive effort for Botterill/Vacy-Lyle, because they proceeded to chip away at lead of Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz inside a Volkswagen Polo. By the penultimate stage Botterill was still being 18 seconds behind Van Beurden, however with just a short tarmac stage to follow along with, the Durbanite entered the final gravel stage with all guns blazing. The result was probably the most impressive stage wins in the good reputation for Class S1600, as Botterill took 26.3 seconds from Van Beurden – and the top step of the podium along the way. He also finished a very credible 5th within the overall standings.
This makes it four wins from four starts for Botterill and Vacy-Lyle, showing not only the class of the driver, but the reliability of his locally-built Toyota Etios R2. The most recent victory places Botterill very comfortably in the lead from the Class S1600 championship, with his nearest competitor a lot more than 40 points behind.
Volkswagen won the manufacturer’s prize of the new-look Volkswagen Rally. Four entirely new stages were contested over the course of the event, although the core from the rally was still being located in the fearsome Longmore Forest.
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.