Consult Co

Dirt racing comes to town

DAVE LEDBITTER

THE most closely fought South African Rally championship in two decades will come to town this weekend, with the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally taking place around Bapsfontein. The event should continue this year's rallying tendency, which has seen up to 10 crews fighting for overall victories. Conrad Rautenbach and Nicolas Klinger (Green Fuel Ford Fiesta S2000) currently lead the season's title chase, with their closest challengers Johnny Gemmell/ Drew Sturrock (Castrol Toyota Auris) and Hergen Fekken/ Pierre Arries (BP Ultimate VW Polo). Fourth on the points ladder, and equally able to win overall, will be Charl Wilken/ Greg Godrich (Basil Read Ford Fiesta), leading Leeroy Poulter/ Elvene Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Auris) and Jan Habig/ Robert Paisley (BP VW Polo).


Not currently direct championship contenders, but certainly able to win the rally, will be Mark Cronje/ Robin Houghton (Sasol Ford Fiesta), Enzo Kuun/ Guy Hodgson (BP VW Polo) and Jon Williams/ Cobus Vrey (Sasol Ford Fiesta). Others in with a chance to stand on the podium will include Giniel De Villiers/ Ralph Pitchford (Red Bull Mobile VW Polo), plus Team Total's JP Damseaux/ Carolyn Swan and Mohammed Moosa/Grant Martin, in their Toyota RunX entries. Peugeot privateers Hein Lategan/ Johan vd Merwe and Visser du Plessis/ Gerhard Snyman are getting to grips with their Pirtek-backed 207 models, and could provide surprises this weekend.
Other privateers who could ruffle works teams' feathers should include Nicholas Ryan/ Armand du Toit (Grandmark International VW Polo), And Japie van Niekerk/ Simon Vacy-Lyle (New Africa VW Polo).


Rounding out the S2000 entry will be a pair of Toyota privateers in the shape of the Namibian teenager Wilro Dippenaar/ Derek Jacobs (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota RunX), Zimbabweans Chase Attwell/ Miles Skinner (Toyota Auris), and Sebastiaan Klaassen/ Cindi Harding (Monster Subaru Impreza STI). The year's Junior Rally Championship for Super 1600 and Super 1400 cars is currently led by brother and sister Christoff and Celeste Snyders in their Sabertek VW Polo. Second in the points race is the amazingly consistent Craig Trott/ Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX), closely followed by Ashley Haigh Smith/ Hilton Auffray (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2).
They should all come under threat from people like Tjaart Conradie/ Kes Naidoo (Silverton Engineering Toyota Auris), Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin (BP Ultimate Volkswagen Polo Vivo) and Morne Janse van Rensburg/ Rikus Fourie (GC Diesel VW Polo).

Struggling for pace but learning fast are former circuit racers like Guy Botterill/ Schalk van Heerden (Yato Tools Toyota RunX) and Clint Weston/ Shaun Visser (Dynamic Driving Toyota RunX). Finally, Stefanie Botha/ Angela Shields (Team Total Toyota RunX) could move up the leader board, givel a clear run.
In the Super 1400 class, Henk Lategan/ Pierre Jordaan (Q8 Oils VW Polo) currently lead Megan Verlaque/ Lirene du Plessis in their identical BP Ultimate Polo Vivo.
The Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally will consist of 14 special stages and an event-ending super special. It will start from Carnival Toyota close to the Carnival City Casino complex at noon on Friday and finish at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy near Bapsfontein on Saturday afternoon.