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Another Fiesta party for Cronje

2013-08-18 10:47

GEM OF A WIN IN CULLINAN The inaugural Ford Dealer Rally ended in Cullinan on Saturday with another National Rally championship win for 2012 champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Fiesta S2000). Image: Quickpic

Charmaine Fortune

CULLINAN - A very successful inaugural Ford Dealer Rally ended in Cullinan, Gauteng , on Saturday with another National Rally championship victory for reigning champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta S2000).

It was the current runaway championship leader’s fourth win from five events and, with three rounds remaining, the team has a comfortable 30-point lead at the top of the standings. It won eight of the 14 special stages over two days in the historic diamond area of Cullinan, east of Pretoria, and included a spectator stage on in the Mamelodi Plaza car park.

In addition to winning the all-wheel drive S2000 class, Fiestas also won the S2000 Challenge for older all-wheel drive cars and the two-wheel drive S1600 class. Toyota took the Manufacturers’ award and extended its lead in the Manufacturers' championship.


Henk Lategan and Barry White (Polo S2000) were second overall, 1min16 back. The 20-year-old Lategan, the hottest young property in rallying today, came from fifth overnight to add three stage wins to the two he scored on Friday. Had it not been for a 20sec penalty for deviating from the route on Friday he would have finished the first day third.

Third was the Team Toyota combination of Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan in a Yaris, 42sec behind team mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee who were penalised 70sec for two jumped starts on Friday – that dropped them from second to eighth overnight and cost them second place on Saturday.

Seven top-three finishers in Saturday’s eight stages saw them close to within six seconds of their team mates at the finish at Zonderwater Correctional Services in Cullinan.

Privateers Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman were fifth and enjoyed their best result so far in 2013 in only their second outing in their Fiesta S2000 Challenge entry.


Former champions Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd (Polo S2000) scraped home sixth with a fast-finishing Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Toyota Yaris S2000) just two seconds behind.

Completing the top 10 were Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray and Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen in eighth and ninth (Auris S2000 Challenge cars) with another Challenge entry, the Toyota RunX of Stephanie Botha and her father Willem Hugo, 10th.

Defending S2000 Challenge champions Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (Polo) retired with a broken engine valve early on Saturday.

Former National rally champion Jan Habig and Robert Paisley were cruelly robbed of a hard-earned fifth on the last stage when their Fiesta S2000 broke a cam belt.

Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries (Polo S2000) had a weekend to forget.  The former champions hit a gate on stage two on Friday and had to retire. They started on Saturday morning under Super Rally rules, which apply stiff penalties for all the stages missed, but only completed two stages before retiring once again with a severe vibration.


The two-wheel drive S1600 honours went to a resurgent Ashleigh Haigh-Smith and Craig Parry (Fiesta R2) who were 12th overall and 1min22 ahead of the second S1600 carrying Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz. It was circuit racer Beurden’s best result in his first year in rallying and he and Swartz won the final stage.

Haigh-Smith started fourth on Saturday after a puncture on Friday dropped them to eighth after three stages and fought back to win the class for the first time this season. Third were Paul Franken and Henry Kohne (Polo R2) in their best result of the season, 0.8sec behind after more than two hours and 160km of gravel-road racing.

Another circuit racer competing in only his second rally, Ernie van der Walt, was a very happy fourth with co-driver James Aldridge (Fiesta R2) and fifth were Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden (RunX) ahead of Andrew Heine and Stephen Jones (Auris) and Lourens van Rensburg and Jason Plumbley (Fiesta).


Completing the top 10 were six-times former class champion Craig Trott and Janine Lourens, whose rally was bedevilled by punctures and delays in other competitors’ dust; championship leaders Clint Weston and Christoff Snyders ( Citroen C2 R2) and Marko Himmel of Namibia and Gert Nienaber (Toyota Corolla).

Weston and Snyders had led throughout the day until dropping to second and rolling their car on the final stage.

Himmel’s older brother Thilo and Armand du Toit (Toyota Etios R2), second in the championship, competed in the Super Rally on Saturday after breaking a drive shaft on Friday. They dominated the stage times with five wins out of eight to Weston/Snyders’ two and retired on the final stage with suspension problems. 

The next round of the championship will be the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape over September 13/14.

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