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Van Beurden/Swartz close S1600 rally gap

2014-08-26 10:23

EAT MY DUST:Chad Van Beurden/ Nico Swartz Beurden Construction VW Polo rocket to second in the S1600 championship after a superb win at the Cullinan Rally. Image: Dave Ledbitter

CHARMAINE FORTUNE

CULLINAN, Pretoria - Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s 44-point lead in the 2014 South African National Rally championship for S1600 front-wheel drive cars was almost halved, to 24 points, when the KZN pair’s winning streak of four consecutive rallies came to an end in the Cullinan Rally in Gauteng on August 16.

The until then all-conquering Toyota Etios R2 suffered a broken drive shaft on special  stage eight and they finished 11th under Super Rally rules.

SCOOPING POINTS

Deserved victors on the day were Chad van Beurden/Nico Swartz (VW Polo), who won eight of the 12 specials on their way to a 20sec victory over Ashley Haigh-Smith/Damian van Ass (Ford Fiesta R2). The Ford duo won three of the specials and are third in the championship with 71 points.

Van Beurden/Swartz were a distant sixth in the championship with 35 points to Botterill/Vacy-Lyle’s 75 just two events previously but thanks to a fine second in the VW Rally in the Eastern Cape in July and their first S1600 win in Round 5 they are now in a good position to challenge for the title.

While the top three, separated by 34 points, can be expected to contest the title – and a championship win will be a first for any one of them – only 15.5 points separate fourth from 10th in a super competitive fight for the minor placings.

RUNNERS-UP

Heading the list and certainly capable of displacing third-placed Haigh-Smith/Van Ass before the end of the season are Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Schalk van Heerden (Etios) with 62.5 points. Fourth in the Cullinan event, their efforts to date have been spoiled by two low-scoring Super Rally rules results.

Andrew Heine and former S1600 champion co-driver Robbie Coetzee (Polo R2) took their second podiumof the season in Cullinan, equalling their third place in the opening round in KZN. They are fifth in the standings with 58 points.

Sixth are AC Potgieter/Tommy du Toit (Polo) with 55.5 points, closely followed by Richard Leeke jnr (Fiesta R2), seventh in the Drivers’ standings with 50 points. Teenager Leeke’s current co-driver, Rikus Fourie, has only read the notes for him in the last three rounds and is 12th in the co-drivers’ championship.

Rounding off the top 10 were Chris Coertse and 16-year-old Mari van der Walt (Etios R2) with 49.5 points, Ernie van der Walt/James Aldridge (Fiesta R2) with 48.5 points and Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne (Polo) with 47 points.  

The next round of the championship will be the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape over September 19 /20.

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