Defending champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvne Coetzee drove their Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 to some strong second-place finish in treacherous conditions on the 24th Sasol Rally. The big event, which again happened in Mpumalanga around Sabie, Graskop and Nelspruit, was marked by extremely wet and slippery conditions, with the rain bucketing down on the first day. Former champions Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Ford) won the rally for their second victory of year.
“We ended the first day just a handful of seconds behind Cronje, however the conditions were extremely slippery and it was simple to get some things wrong,” said Poulter after completing the rally at the show grounds in Nelspruit. “We eventually decided to accept second place, instead of taking unnecessary risks.”
Poulter started the rally second on the highway and managed to steer clear of the worst of the trouble.
“We know what it takes to win a championship,” explained Team Principal Glyn Hall after the race. “Leaving here with the points for second place in the bag is way better than throwing caution towards the wind and crashing out in the process – particularly in conditions like we had within the Lowveld.”
Dakar veteran and rally driver Giniel de Villiers, partnered with Carolyn Swan within the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris, enjoyed a solid performance around the Sasol Rally, until an electric train engine problem forced they to retire just 25 km in the end from the event. These were running in third place overall at the time, with a healthy buffer to fourth place in it.
“It had been very disappointing to have Giniel and Carolyn retire so close the end of the rally,” continued Hall. “We were looking good for two podium places, but in rallying you can’t rely on anything before the race is over.”
In Class S1600, for front-wheel drive cars with engines of just one,600 cc, defending champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Toyota Etios) started strong, but were reduced to spectators when the diff on their own race vehicle failed on the first day. They rejoined the rally under super rally regulations on day two, but were not able score meaningful points.
The class was won by Chad van Beurden (Volkswagen) with Paul Franken inside a second Volkswagen in second place. Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden finished third within their Fragram Toyota Etios.
Next up is the Secunda Motor Rally, that takes place on 15 and 16 May 2019. This can be a new event on the national rally calendar, although the area has been utilized for regional rally events previously. This will be round three of the eight-round South African National Rally Championship.
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, Innovation Group, Imperial Toyota Group, , Bosch, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, Smith Manufacturing, 4×4 Mega World, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.
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