Defending champions, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, had yet another perfect weekend in their Ford Fiesta S2000. They won eight of the 14 stages of the Ford Dealer Rally in the surrounds of Cullinan, east of Pretoria, and extended their lead at the top of the National Rally Championship standings.
“What a weekend. To take the Ford Dealer Team Fiesta to a win on an event sponsored by Ford’s dealers and with many of them here as spectators is very special. It is also great to have built a buffer to our main rivals as we defend our title,” Cronje said.
Second was teenager Henk Lategan and seasoned co-driver Barry White in their Volkswagen Polo S2000, who managed to take five stage wins, but also picked up a 20 second penalty on day one for deviating from the route. In third overall was Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan’s Toyota Yaris S2000.
Gemmell and Swan’s teammates Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee might have ended up ahead of the former duo had they not been penalized 70 seconds after two jump starts on day one.
Besides privateers Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman’s best performance of the season, a fifth overall, some of the traditionally stronger competitors had a weekend to forget. Former champions Jan Habig and Robert Paisley would have been in fifth overall had their Ford Fiesta S2000 not suffered a broken camshaft belt on the very last stage, while Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries were forced to retire their Polo S2000 after hitting a gate on the second stage of the rally. After restarting on day two, they eventually had to give up chase after just two stages due to persistent mechanical issues.
Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich in their Yaris S2000 had a dice with Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd’s Polo S2000, but came up two seconds short to finish seventh behind the former champions, with S2000 Challenge competitors and Total teammates Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray and Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen in eight and ninth respectively. Stephanie Botha and Willem Hugo rounded off tenth overall with their S2000 Challenge Toyota RunX.
The next round of the South African Rally Championship is the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, which happens in the Overberg region of the Western Cape on September 13 and 14.