QUICK END: SA National Rally Championship reigning champion Mark Cronje has announced he will no longer defend his title as the team has withdrawn from the sport.Image: Facebook / Eric Buijs
Cape Town - Reigning SA Rally Champ Mark Cronje has announced Team #24’s withdrawal from the 2016 series.
The disappointing news comes mere weeks after an arrangement with Volkswagen Motorsport to loan his team one of its 2015 specification S2000 rally cars.
Earlier in February 2016, Wheels24 reported Cronje would defend his title in a Volkswagen Polo S2000. The news came following months of uncertainty and with only two weeks remaining before the start of the 2016 SA National Rally Championship.
Budget to blame?
Cronje said Volkswagen had also kindly made an Amarok available to the team, with which to recce (pre-run) the many varied and challenging stages before each rally of the 2016 season.
The team said in a statement: “Having piloted his new steed to a podium finish on the opening round of the national championship series (with ex-works navigator Barry White sitting alongside), the strategy was to undertake an extensive development program to further optimize the tremendous potential already shown by the VW Polo.
“Having now had sufficient time in which to fully assess the needs of the planned development program, it has become apparent that the team’s self-funded budget will simply not be sufficient to both run the car and also fine-tune the package to Mark’s particular driving style.”
The statement also said that following extensive consultation between Volkswagen Motorsport, Stuart Thompson Racing and Mark Cronje, the team made the difficult decision to withdraw from the 2016 national rally championship.
Cronje said: “This decision is certainly regrettable but we do not want to disappoint the many Volkswagen and Cronje24 fans.
“Our team has always prided itself on pushing the performance envelope, but without the necessary development budget it would simply not be possible to provide rally fans with the level of performance of which both himself and the Volkswagen Polo S2000 are capable.”