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2005-04-12 08:45

Serge Damseaux won his 67th rally when he strolled home in his Castrol Toyota RunX to an easy win in the Toyota Dealer Rally. Picture: Danie van Jaarsveld, Motorpics

Damseaux won seven stages of the 10-stage event outright and claimed another piece of SA rally history by winning his 67th event, a record in the sport. All but one of those victories was behind the wheel of Toyota cars.

Jan Habig (Class A7 BP Volkswagen Golf) finished second overall, while niggling mechanical problems saw his team-mate Enzo Kuun in another Class A7 BP Golf doing well to claim fifth place overall.

Habig/Judd mostly had a clean rally apart from a small problem in SS11 when a driveshaft broke due to rough conditions in the forest stages.

Overall, Habig/Judd showed Damseaux the Golf was up for a challenge when he set the two fastest times in stages 4 and 8.

Nicholas Ryan and new co-driver Schalk van Heerden finished the two day event on the podium, a career first for the young Gauteng pairing.

Pushing their Bosal Brospeed Subaru Impreza WRX Sti to its maximum, Ryan put in a stunning charge over the dying stages of the event to reel in the Toyota of Jean-Pierre Damseaux, simultaneously under attack from the factory Golf of Enzo Kuun.

After stage nine Ryan was fifth overall, just 20 seconds behind Damseaux and a meagre eight ahead of Kuun.

A stunning performance in the final stage saw Ryan beat his rival by a whopping 40 seconds in just 16.6 km, leap-frogging onto the podium.

Ryan also beat the factory Toyota of Serge Damseaux by 9 seconds, recording his first stage win of the year.

The Western Cape event, round two of the Sasol SA Rally Championship, saw the first real benchmark of the capabilities and competitiveness of the new top class regulations in stage one, where Damseaux went head-to-head with the latest production car class N4 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of Fernando Rueda.

The Super 2000 Toyota emerged the clear winner of this contest, beating the turbo car by 53 seconds, while the sister machine of Etienne Lourens/Andre Vermeulen set the second fastest stage time, stopping the clocks 26 seconds faster than the most technologically advanced production car competing in South Africa.

Hard work

"This victory is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Castrol Toyota team", said Serge at the Cape Town finish.

"The car is impressive and this win comes as a result of lots of testing since the Natal rally. Nothing in life comes easy - it takes plenty of hard work and I'm glad for the team.

"My tally of wins is a milestone. I'm proud to be part of the sport's history in South Africa. It's been a long time coming", said the 10 times SA Driver's Champion on surpassing the record held by rally legend Sarel van der Merwe.

Charl Wilken and Robin Houghton brought their new class A7 Castrol Toyota RunX RSi home in seventh overall and fourth in class.

Toyota claimed an additional four class wins on the Toyota Dealer Rally: Craig Trott/John Costa (A6 Toyota Corolla), Michael Houghton/Bryn Doherty (A5 Motorola Toyota Tazz), Chris de Wit/Patrick Yende (N3 Toyota RunX RSi) and Aggie Stroh/Jurg Steyn (N2 NPS Team Oilflow Toyota Corolla).

And Subaru?s team of privateers enjoyed a successful weekend in the Western Cape with three teams in the top 10 and a 1 ? 2 result in Production Cars and class N4.

These successes have opened Toyota's lead in the Manufacturer's Championship, where the marque is aiming for its 14th title in 2005.

Inside Wheels24

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