Ford Fiesta S2000 pilots Conrad Rautenbach and Nicolas Klinger won the penultimate round of the South African Rally Championship, the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, on Saturday and have regained the championship lead leading into the season finale.
Zimbabwean Rautenbach and Frenchman Klinger took the podium top spot with a final time of 1 hour 39 minutes and 16,3 seconds. Reigning champions Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson put on a top performance to finish second (23 seconds adrift of the winners) after starting the final day in ninth overall and more than a minute behind in their S2000 Polo.
Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich in their S2000 Fiesta took third, six seconds behind Kuun and Hodgson.
Toyota’s hopes of a home win were high overnight, as Johnny Gemmel/ Drew Sturrock and Leeroy Poulter/ Elvene Coetzee dominated day one. Unfortunately, Gemmel and Sturrock retired with an overheating engine after damage to their Auris S2000’s radiator after a yump.
Two stages later, Poulter and Coetzee lost valuable time after a puncture and had to drive 32 km on a flat, leaving the door open for Rautenbach, Kuun and Wilken to capitalise. It was also disappointing for the Total Toyota Team after Mark Cronje dominated the last three rounds of the championship. Cronje and Robin Houghton also suffered an overheating engine on day one, as well as a puncture on stage five.
The South African Rally Championship now heads north to Polokwane in Limpopo for the final round of the championship in what should truly be a nail-biting finish, as the rally is a new event on the calendar. With only a few points between the leaders and unchartered terrain on the cards, the Polokwane Rally should be a worthy championship finale.