Chris de Wit and Dean Redelinghuys (Team TOTAL Toyota RunX) wrapped up the class A7 championship with a commanding class win – their fourth this season from six events – in the Osram Rally in the Eastern Cape on Saturday. Also class winners were reigning class A6 champion Craig Trott and co-driver Tony Ball (Team TOTAL Toyota RunX). There were only two finishers in each of classes A7 and A6.
The Osram Rally, round six of the Sasol SA Rally Championship, returned to its Mountain Trial roots and presented the country’s top dirt road racers with one of the toughest challenges they’ve faced all year, with high-speed stages on loose surface roads in the southern Drakensberg mountains. It was a triumph for Team TOTAL with all eight of the privateer team’s entries completing the arduous event.
Highest-placed overall Team TOTAL finisher was the combination of Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Cobus Vrey (Toyota RunX) who completed the 212-km nine-special stage event in an excellent fourth overall and fourth in class S2000 behind two factory VW Polos and a factory Toyota RunX. The pair finished over a minute ahead of Jan Habig and Douglas Judd, the reigning SA rally champions, in their factory VW Polo.
Damseaux and Vrey won the 14-km stage seven on Saturday after completing Friday’s four stages in fifth place overall and reported a relatively clean run over the two days’ of competition.
De Wit and Redelinghuys were already in command of class A7 at the end of day one, leading the Motorite Toyota RunX of Evan Hutchison and Greg Gericke by 1 min 41 sec. De Wit finished second in last year’s class A7 championship.
Veterans Trott and Ball were second in class A6 after the first day, but kept out of trouble and scored consistent stage times to emerge the victors at the end of the event in Barkly East.
TOTAL team-mates Mohammed Moosa and Grant Martin were happy to bring the new Toyota Auris home in second place in class A6 in its national rally championship debut.
Vusi Mabanga and Shawn Visser (Team TOTAL Toyota Yaris) claimed a well-earned fifth place in class A5 in their second successive points’ scoring performance since debuting the baby Toyota in the TOTAL International Rally in May.
Like their team-mates in the modified classes, all the Team TOTAL crews contesting the production car classes in the rally championship completed the Osram Rally. Highest placed among them was the Team TOTAL Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 of Fernando Rueda and reigning co-driver champion Dave Lewkowicz. They were 11th overall and third in class N4 with Rueda unhappy with the handling of the powerful Mitsubishi.
Sisters Lola and Megan Verlaque continued their consistent run of performances this year and finished 14th overall and fourth in class N4 in their Team TOTAL Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
Reigning class N3 champion Rodney Visagie and Carolyn Swan maintained their lead in this year’s class N3 championship with a hard-fought second place in their Team TOTAL Toyota RunX.
The seventh round of the championship is the Cape Swartland Rally in the Western Cape on September 19 and 20.