Gemmel, Swan head to Polokwane

2012-10-01 11:52

Castrol Team Toyota’s Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Toyota Auris) head for the penultimate round of the 2012 SA Rally championship, the Polokwane Rally in Limpopo on October 6/7, leading the title chase and looking for a second successive win after their triumph in the 2012 Toyota Cape Dealer rally in September, three weeks earlier.

Gemmell and Swan, competing in their first season together in the S2000 class for all-wheel drive cars, have accumulated 127 points in the six rallies run so far in 2012 with two wins, three seconds and a sixth and lead nearest challengers Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta) by five points.


With a maximum of 50 points available there are only two other contenders; Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey (Ford Fiesta) are third with 95 points, four ahead of Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta).

Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee in the second Castrol Toyota Auris, by contrast, have had a difficult and frustrating 2012 after winning twice in their debut season in the premier class in 2011.  Four non-finishes see them right out of contention and, while they would like nothing better than to redeem themselves with a repeat of their win in last year’s Polokwane Rally, their primary objective this time around will be to help their team mates by finishing ahead of the other championship contenders.

Also looking to improve on their fifth-place best result to date in their first season together are Giniel de Villiers and Celeste Snyders in Toyota Motorsport’s third S2000 Auris. After giving the new car its debut in the fourth-round VW Rally in the Eastern Cape, the pair get stronger with every outing and will also be looking to take points away from those who would prevent Gemmell and Swan from winning their first championship.


Toyota Motorsport team principal Glyn Hall said:  “Johnny and Carolyn have done a great job so far, they’re up against some really good competition, but their consistency and pace have seen them stay in the hunt. Leeroy and Elvene are due a good result after their run of bad luck and Giniel and Celeste are working well together and discovering the pace that will get them on to the podium.

"I’m confident all three crews will give a good account of themselves.”

There’s also the chance of winning the manufacturers’ championship. Toyota currently trails Ford by 34 points and the factory team will be depending on Toyota’s loyal band of privateers to help them bridge the gap to the leaders. They include Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Grant Martin and Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen (both in an S2000 Auris) and Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee, who are leading the two-wheel drive championship in their S1600 Toyota RunX.
The 2012 Polokwane Rally will start at 9am on Saturday (October 6) from the Savannah Mall, with the first day featuring eight special stages and ending with a short special at the Peter Mokhaba Stadium at around 5pm. Sunday’s action will start at 7.30am and will consist of five specials, the last of which will be back at the stadium at around 11am.