International entries for SA rally

2013-04-15 11:18

The Sasol Rally, round two of the South African and FIA African Rally Championships, takes on a distinctly international flavour as entrants prepare to tackle 15 timed special stages in Mpumalanga on April 19 and 20 2013.

The rally will see 44 entries from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Ruwanda and the United Kingdom prepare to tackle 15 timed special stages in and around the Mpumalanga Lowveld towns of Sabie, Graskop, White River and Nelspruit on April 19 and 20.


The top S2000 class for two-litre four-wheel drive cars will be headed by current championship leaders and defending 2012 champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in a Ford Dealer Team Fiesta.

They are looking for their second win in a row after taking the honours in the Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal in March.  They also won the 2012 Sasol Rally.

Their main competition will come from the Toyota and Volkswagen factory teams as well as the privateer Basil Read Ford Fiesta of multiple former champions Jan Habig and Robert Paisley. Habig has won the Sasol Rally six times, but not since 2006.  He and Paisley are second in the championship, four points behind the leaders after a fine second place in the Total Rally, and they will be keen to go one better in Mpumalanga.

Toyota, winner in 2011 with Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee, will be looking for a debut victory for the all-new Castrol Toyota Yaris. 

Poulter and Coetzee were fourth in the Yaris in the opening round. Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich, who were sixth in the season-opener in their Toyota Auris, will be making their first appearance in the third factory Yaris and will be looking to make a quick impression.


The three-car Volkswagen Polo team of Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries, Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson (four-time previous Sasol Rally winners) and Henk Lategan/Barry White are expected to bounce back strongly after a disappointing first event.

Apart from their regular rivals in the national championship, Cronje and Houghton can expect stiff competition from the English team of Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson, who will be making a guest appearance in Cronje’s second Ford Fiesta.

Namibia is represented by Wilro Dippenaar, who competes with local co-driver Kes Naidoo in an S2000 Challenge Toyota Auris.  Also hailing from Namibia is Thilo Himmel, who competes with local co-driver Armand du Toit in a Class 1600 Toyota Etios R2. 

While the Himmel/Du Toit Etios will be the car to beat in this round, strong performances can be expected from Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle (Toyota RunX), who were second in the Total Rally, Ashley Haigh-Smith/Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R2) and Craig Trott/Janine Lourens (Toyota RunX), who were third and fourth in the opening round, and Clint Weston/Christoff Snyders (Citroen C2 R2).


With almost all of its 11 gravel special stages in the York Timbers forests in the Sabie, Graskop, White River and Hendriksdal areas, the Sasol Rally attracts more spectators than any other on the national calendar. 

The South African Motorsport Club (SAM) have compiled a comprehensive spectator guide, visit the website here for all the details.

The 22ndSasol Rally, which will be held over a distance of some 600 kilometres including 210km of timed special stages, starts in the Sabie market square at 10am on Friday , April 19 and ends at the Lowveld Showgrounds in Nelspruit on Saturday, April 20.