Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Golf driver Enzo Kuun fought off challenges from Schalk Burger’s Subaru Impreza and Ettiene Lourens’s Toyota RSi to win the Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga this weekend.
Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Golf driver Enzo Kuun fought off challenges from Schalk Burger’s Subaru Impreza and Ettiene Lourens’s Toyota RunX to win the Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga this weekend.
Lourens finished second, with Burger third and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo driver Fernando Rueda fourth overall. The win means Kuun has successfully defended last year's win, leading a clean sweep of the podium for the Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Team.
Toyota veteran Serge Damseaux started the event in a determined mood but the Volkswagen Golf duo of Kuun and Jan Habig kept pace with him on the first three stages. When Damseaux had to retire on Stage Four because of engine problems, Kuun and navigator Guy Hodgson took over the lead and stayed there for the remainder of the rally.
Habig maintained pressure on Kuun’s lead on Day 2. The gap could have been 11 seconds less, but for a 10 second lateness penalty Habig incurred. The defending champion went into the overnight stop 21 seconds behind Kuun, a minor deficit considering the length of the total stage distance remaining. Burger was third with Rueda, Lourens and Hergen Fekken (Polo Playa) taking the remaining top six overnight places.
A promising Day Two for Habig ended abruptly when he went off the road on Stage 10. "I was pushing too hard and misread the situation. The car went off the road and we could not bring it back on to the road and had to retire," said Habig.
But Kuun prevailed in challenging conditions, which saw several entrants suffering punctures on the rough terrain. "It was all the more reason to be cautious as the car can get terminal damage early on, putting paid to any chances of an overall win. We had to calculate every move down to a tee, and it worked," said Kuun.
His Golf recorded a top speed of 200 km/h on the steep uphill Long Tom Pass special stage (an incline that rises more than 300m in just over four kilometres). The data indicates that Volkswagen has pegged back Toyota’s earlier horsepower advantage that gave Damseaux the break he needed to establish a strong lead in the championship.
Fekken’s DualFuel Polo Playa's engine gave in on the penultimate stage when he was on course for a podium finish. Polo Playa team-mate Tjaart van der Walt's retired on Stage Two - also with engine trouble.
Meanwhile, Subaru scored its second manufacturer’s award in South African National Rally Championship series and consolidated its mid-season second position in the manufacturers championship. Apart from Burger’s victory in the N4 class, five Subarus finished in top 10.
1 Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson - Volkswagen Golf - Class A8
2 Etienne Lourens & Andre Vermeulen - Toyota Corolla Rsi - Class A7
3 Schalk Burger & Vito Bonafede - Subaru Impreza Sti - Class N4
4 Fernando Rueda & Piet Swanepoel - Mitsubishi Lancer
Evo - Class N4