Toyota Motorsport has announced that there will be four Corolla S2000 rally cars competing in the premier class in South African National Championship rallying in 2007.
Two of these cars will run in the colours of Castrol Team Toyota and the other two in Total colours.
Serge Damseaux will continue as the number one driver for Castrol Team Toyota with his established navigator Robert Paisley. They will be joined by new signing Johnny Gemmel who moves across to S2000 from the N4 class where he has been a leading contender in a privateer team.
Etienne Lourens will once again head up the Total challenge in National Championship rallying. His car will be prepared by Toyota Motorsport in the team?s Sandton headquarters. The second of the Total backed S2000 Corollas will be driven by Jean-Pierre Damseaux. This car will be prepared by Damseaux in the Damseaux Motorsport workshops in Cape Town with assistance from Toyota Motorsport.
Castrol Team Toyota will also field a Class A7 RunX for Mark Cronje. This car will run as a semi-works car with the preparation outsourced in the Johannesburg area.
In addition to these five contenders, Charl Wilken has been offered an A7 RunX with financial assistance from Toyota Motorsport for his 2007 rally campaign. This offer is still under negotiation.
The line-up for the South African Off-Road Championship remains unchanged. The programme will once again be based on the Hilux V6 competing in the top production vehicle class (SP). Two vehicles will run in Castrol colours and be driven by Mark Cronje and Bevan Bertholdt.
"The full FIA homologation of the Corolla S2000 car has led to more of these exciting cars becoming available for local competitors," says Toyota Motorsport Manager, Wammy Haddad. "We expect that there will be at least eight cars in the S2000 class in 2007. Toyota will have strong representation in the class and mount a full challenge for the Championship.
"Serge Damseaux has shown that he is still extremely competitive and he will lead our challenge in the coming year. To back him up we have secured the services of Johnny Gemmel who has shown himself to be very competitive in the N4 class with an ability to run at the front of the field. The competition in S2000 is extremely close and we feel that Johnny's experience in a very quick N4 car will be an asset to Toyota in our expanded team as we mount a full assault on both the Driver's and Manufacturers? Championships. We will continue to develop Mark Cronje as we elevate him from A6 to A7 in a works supported RunX.
"Etienne Lourens will again lead the challenge for Total. He had an amazing year in 2006 and was in a position to end the year as runner up in the Championship right up to the last event in 2006. Jean-Pierre Damseaux moves up to S2000 with assistance from Total to provide further depth to the Toyota representation in the top class."