CLASS WIN: Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota Etios S1600) celebrated their second consecutive class victory. Image: Dave Ledbitter
BELA-BELA, Limpopo - Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee kept things on the boil in their Toyota Yaris S2000 on Saturday (June 20 015) to win the Bela-Bela Motor Rally in Limpopo Province in convincing style – boosting their championship hopes in the process.
The defending National Rally champions’ confident performance saw them winning seven of the ten dusty and sometimes sandy stages over the two-day event in and around the town in the Waterberg region, finishing the rally in a total time of 2h5mins6.90.
At the overnight stop the Toyota pair was 19.9 seconds ahead of current championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta) and Saturday (June 20) they stretched their lead even further – winning by a margin of 28.8 seconds.
Cronje/Houghton had a quiet second day, seemingly content to drive avoid risks to secure second and keep their substantial championship lead intact.
After a great performance on Day 1 which elevated them to third the Volkswagen pair of Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries (Polo) put in another storming drive to win Stage 6 and close the gap on Cronje/Houghton.
However, two stages later disaster struck when a wheel on their Polo was destroyed when they hit an embankment, forcing them to retire. With their demise the Ford Fiesta crew of Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman became involved in a major contest for third with Gugu Zulu/Hilton Auffray (VW Polo) and Giniel de Villiers/Carolyn Swan in the Toyota Yaris.
With less than 30 seconds separating them the three teams went for it hammer and tong, De Villiers ending up the joint winner (together with VW driver Henk Lategan) of Stage 8, and all the while chipping away at Van Niekerk’s advantage.
In the end the Fiesta pair just managed to hold on, beating Zulu/Auffray by a mere 3.6 seconds, with De Villiers/Swan ending up in fifth position – another 9.2 seconds adrift.
Henk Lategan/Barry White (Polo) had a day to forget, losing more than a minute with two punctures and eventually ended up sixth.
Their team mates Thilo Himmel/Armand du Toit’s onslaught also ended early, in Stage 9, but they were still classified ninth overall, behind privateers Ernie van der Walt/Greg Godrich (Toyota Yaris) and Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (Toyota Auris), the first NRC4 team home.
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota Etios S1600) celebrated their second consecutive class victory, leading home Chad van Beurden/Nico Swartz (Ford Fiesta R2) by over a minute. The latter pair was very lucky though, as a penalty they incurred saw them beat the combination of Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk Van Heerden (Etios R2) by only 1.4 seconds.
AND THE NEXT ONE...
The Ford teams of Richard Leeke/ Rikus Fourie (Fiesta R2) and Ashley Haigh-Smith/Damian van Ass (Fiesta R2) filled the next two positions.
In the Northern Regions championship round, held concurrently with the national rally event, the Class S5 Toyota Yaris S2000 of Van der Walt/Godrich reigned with Leeke/Fourie (Class S3 Ford Fiesta S1600) second, followed by the Class S3 Toyota Tazz teams of Jaco/George Baker and Arnold Neveling/Rowan Robbertse.
The next round of the 2015 South African rally championship, the Volkswagen Rally, will take place over July 17/18 in near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
IN THE LEAD: Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee kept things on the boil in their Toyota Yaris S2000 on Saturday (June 20) to win the 2015 Bela-Bela Motor Rally. Image: Dave Ledbitter