The Toyota Cape Dealer Rally returned a welcome result for Toyota on the weekend as former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers claimed his maiden victory.
The most recent round of the South African National Rally Championship saw De Villiers and his navigator Greg Godrich score the win in the Swartland rally, despite suffering a number of setbacks throughout the weekend. A damper problem also kept them out of the race lead until the very last stage.
‘We had a problem with our left-front shock absorber on the first stage this morning,’ said De Villiers at the end of the second day. ‘I thought we were going to have to retire, but we decided to fight back regardless – and it certainly paid off!’
‘Giniel and Greg trailed Leeroy (Poulter) and Elvéne (Coetzee) by just over a second coming into the short final stage at Meerendal Wine Estate,” said team boss Glyn Hall after the event. ‘These short sprint stages seldom have an influence on the outcome of a rally, but today was different.’
Small problems, huge results
Poulter/Coetzee started the final stage well in the knowledge that a clean run at Meerendal was all that was needed for them to secure their third victory for the season. A spin mid-way through the slippery grass stage saw the pair drop to second. Team-mates Hergen Fekken and Carolyn Swan dropped from second place at one point to finish fourth, with privateers Gerhard Snyman and Enzo Keen slipping through for the final podium spot in their S2000 Ford Fiesta.
Volkswagen Sasolracing’s Hans Weijs Jnr and Björn Degandt drove their Polo S2000 to fifth place overall after they had to work hard to overcome hitting a pole on the first stage. The incident cost the duo nearly a minute to the leaders and they had to work hard to close that gap over the following stages.
‘The event has changed since I first competed here two years ago and the changes did not work for us – that cost us time as well out on the stages. A top five finish is good, but not nearly good enough for us, this rally was just not my rally this year.’
Reigning rally champs, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton suffered a series of punctures and setbacks on the weekend to eventually finish sixth overall.
Cronje said: ‘There’s only one way to describe the day, and that’s character-building. We were first on the road and the mud and standing water tended to hide the obstacles. Nevertheless, we were pretty unlucky to pick up two punctures.’
The result sees the pair remaining in third overall in the S2000 race with two rounds remaining in the 2014 season. The SA national rally championship next heads to Polokwane in Limpopo on October 17 and 18, 2014.