VICTORY IN SECUNDA: A hat trick of victories has seen Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta S2000) extend their lead in the 2015 South African National Rally championship. Image: Dave Ledbitter
SECUNDA, Mpumalanga - Ford's Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, behind the wheel of their Fiesta S2000, grabbed their third consecutive victory in 2015 with a fantastic win at the inaugural Secunda Motor Rally in Mpumalanga.
The pair extends their lead in the 2015 National Rally championship to 48 points, 19 ahead of rivals and defending champions Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota Yaris).
Cronje/Houghton's performance in 2015 is already better than that of 2013, when they dominated the series with six wins and their second championship.
Poulter/Coetzee, on 31 points after a difficult and eventful Secunda rally with five rounds remaining, need to win the next event if they want to topple the Ford pair.
Third in the Driver’s championship on 23 points after a podium place from each of the previous two rallies is Gugu Zulu, now with Hilton Auffray in the navigator’s seat, in a VW Polo. He is only 1.5 points clear of Giniel de Villiers/Carolyn Swan (Toyota Yaris).
Henk Lategan/Barry White (Polo) are fifth on 12 points – only a half-point clear of team mates Thilo Himmel/Armand du Toit.
The shake-up in the VW team means Pierre Arries, who partnered Zulu in the first two events of 2015 but is now back alongside Hergen Fekken, is fourth in the Navigator’s championship on 16.5 points, behind Houghton (48), Coetzee (31) and Swan (21.5).
The S1600 championship is still close with only three points separating the top three. After a steady run and a podium place at Secunda, Toyota Etios pair Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Schalk Van Heerden are championship leaders on 30 points.
They’ve replaced Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne (Polo R2) at the top of the log, but by only two points; reigning S1600 champions Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle (Etios) are third on 27 points after their class victory in Secunda.
Chad van Beurden/Nico Swartz (Polo), after winning the Sasol Rally, have tumbled down the log to fourth in class with 21.5 points with Richard Leeke jnr/Rikus Fourie (Fiesta R2) behind with 20 points.
Piet Bakkes/Shaun Visser (Toyota Auris) lead the NRC4 Series by nine points after three events. Behind them are Namibians Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo on seven and Theuns Joubert /Mari van der Walt (Auris) with one.
STILL TO COME...
Five events remain and Toyota is still leading the Manufacturer’s Championship on 119 points. Second is VW on 101 and third Ford on 80.
The next round of the 2015 South African National Rally championship, the Bela-Bela Rally, will be run over June 19/20 in Limpopo Province.
S1600 CLASS: Toyota
Etios pair Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Schalk Van Heerden are championship leaders
on 30 points in the S1600 championship. Image: Dave Ledbitter