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Habig and Paisley win Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally

Jan Habig and Robert Paisley rolled back the past when they won the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally this afternoon in their S2000 Basil Read Ford Fiesta. Two of the veterans of SA rallying, with eight championships between them, they saw off the challenges of their younger rivals to record a comfortable 45-second win over another experienced crew, Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris).

After two days and 10 gravel special stages totalling some 177 kilometres in the Bapsfontein area east of Johannesburg, the third and final place on the podium was filled by another veteran pairing, Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo), who have another nine championships between them. They finished 20 seconds behind Gemmell and Swan.

Fourth were Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Imperial Toyota Yaris), who pipped rising stars Henk Lategan and Barry White (VW Sasolracing Polo) by just nine tenths of a second.

Mohammed Moosa and Andre Vermeulen (Team Total Toyota Auris) were fifth overall and first in the S2000 Challenge for older specification four-wheel drive cars despite a spectacular roll in the final stage of the day, a Super Special at the RallyStar Driving Academy.  Defending champion and current points leader Gugu Zulu, competing with stand-in co-driver Gerhard Snyman, was seventh overall and second in the S2000 Challenge category, just 10 seconds behind Moosa and Vermeulen.

Defending national champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Dealer Team Fiesta) were eighth overall after their chances of a third straight victory were scuppered when they lost front-wheel drive on the opening stage on Friday. They started the final day in 12th place, 5 min 21 sec behind overnight leaders Habig and Paisley, and were the class of the field on Saturday, winning the first three stages and closing the gap to the winners by 30 seconds.

Stefanie Botha and father Willem Hugo (Toyota RunX) recorded their best result of the year with ninth place and third in the S2000 Challenge. Completing the top 10 and finishing fourth in the Challenge were Namibian Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota Auris), who had been second in the Challenge and seventh overall with the final stage remaining. Engine problems prevented them from starting the Super Special, but the rules make provision for the competitor to be automatically entered in the Super Rally and be awarded a stage time of fastest time in class plus five minutes.

Winners of the S1600 class for two-wheel drive cars for the third event in a row were runaway championship leaders Thilo Himmel of Namibia and Armand du Toit (Toyota Etios), who finished 12th overall and 5 min 44 sec ahead of Clint Weston and Christoff Snyders (Reef Tankers Citroen C2 R2). Third, a further 1 min 22 sec in arrears, was 2012 Two Wheel Drive champion Craig Trott and co-driver Janine Lourens (Team Total Toyota RunX).

Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Tools Toyota RunX) were fourth, ahead of Chad van Beurden and Henry Dearlove Jnr (Beurden Construction VW Polo R2). Sixth were Andrew Heine and Stephen Jones (Toyota Auris).

The next round of the championship is the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape on July 19 and 20.