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Hat trick for Cronje at Cape Rally

2013-09-16 08:12

DITCH DIVERS: S2000 Challenge drivers Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman (Ford Fiesta) and Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (Toyota Auris) landed in a ditch during the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally on Friday (Sept 13). Image: Allbert le Roux

Charmaine Fortune

Cape Town, South Africa - Defending champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Team Fiesta) scored their fifth win of the season when they narrowly won the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, round six of the SA National Championship, which ended in Brackenfell near Cape Town on Saturday (Sep 14).

Wheels24 reader Albert le Roux's rally images

Second, just 1.8sec behind after 10 special stages and 172km of high-speed racing on gravel roads on Friday and Saturday in the Durbanville, Malmesbury and Moorreesburg areas, were Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Toyota Yaris). 

The results are provisional and subject to an appeal, lodged by Toyota Motorsport and to be heard in Johannesburg within the next 14 days, against a decision to rescind a 10sec penalty imposed on Cronje and Houghton for a jump start in the last of Friday’s special stages.


A distant third 3min57 behind the winners were Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries (VW Polo) who recorded their best result of the season. Fourth, 4min42 in arrears and winners of the S2000 Challenge for older all-wheel drive cars, were local favourite Jean-Pierre Damseaux and co-driver Hilton Auffray (Toyota Auris).

Current S2000 Challenge title holders Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin were fifth in a Polo, ahead of the Toyota Yaris of Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich, Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee in a Yaris and Henk Lategan/Barry White (Polo).

Making up the top 10 were the first of the S1600 two-wheel drive cars of Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit (Toyota Etios) and Clint Weston/Christoff Snyders (Citroen C2).

The battle for overall honours was fought among the elite all-wheel drive S2000 crews in cold and windy conditions on Friday and wet and slippery conditions on Saturday after overnight rain that continued throughout much of the morning.

It was an absorbing three-way contest right from the start, between the Ford of Cronje/Houghton and the Toyotas of Gemmell/Swan and Poulter/Coetzee. Between them they won nine of the 10 stages with four going to Gemmell, three to Poulter and two to Cronje. Each led at some stage on Friday before Cronje/Houghton prevailed and finished the first day 12sec ahead of Gemmell/Swan and 24sec in front of Poulter/Coetzee.

The Toyotas took control on Saturday, winning the first four of the day’s five stages and Poulter/Coetzee moved into the overall lead on stage eight ahead of Cronje/Houghton and Gemmell/Swan. Engine problems saw Poulter drop out on stage nine while enjoying a 17sec lead over Cronje, while Gemmell struck a blow for his team by taking over the lead, four seconds ahead of Cronje with the final 12.4km special stage remaining.

Lategan and White won the final stage with Cronje and Houghton overtaking Gemmell and Swan in a nail-biting finish, prevailing by the closest of margins.


The S1600 two-wheel drive class saw a triumphant return to form of early season championship leaders Namibian Himmel and Du Toit. A gripping battle with chief rivals Weston and Snyders resulted in their winning nine of the 10 stages between them, five going to Himmel and four to Weston.

Himmel and Du Toit led Weston and Snyders by a comfortable minute at the Friday overnight stop and went on to win the first two stages on Saturday. But the Citroen crew fought back to win stages three, four and five and close the gap to just 1min42sec at the finish.

Third in their best result of the season were Lourens van Rensburg and Jason Plumbley (Ford Fiesta) ahead of Chris Coertse and Robbie Coetzee (Toyota Etios) and defending two-wheel-drive champion Craig Trott and Janine Lourens (Toyota RunX).

Championship leaders Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden (RunX) were classified eighth after completing the event under Super Rally rules after retiring after stage two on Day 1 with mechanical problems.

The next round of the championship will be the Polokwane Rally in Limpopo over October 18/19.

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