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Zimbo leads SA Rally championship

2011-09-26 08:55

Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and his French co-driver Nicolas Klinger (Ford Fiesta) won the 2011 Toyota Cape Dealer Rally near Cape Town at the weekend and regained the lead in the South African Rally Championship with one round remaining.

In a dramatic final day of the two-day event that started in Table View and ended at the Killarney racing circuit, the Ford privateers completed the 196km of special stages in 1hr39min16.3. 

Second was the factory Volkswagen Polo of reigning champions Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, who finished 23sec behind the winning Ford after starting the day ninth and more than a half-minute behind the leaders. Privateers Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich (Fiesta) were thirdn after winning three of the day’s stages and finishing 29.6sec in arrears.

REST OF THE TOP 10

Making up the top 10 were Team Total’s Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Carolyn Swan (Toyota Auris) in fourth, Hein Lategan and Johan van der Merwe (Peugeot 207) fifth, Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee (Toyota Auris) sixth, Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey (Fiesta) seventh, Mohammed Moosa and Grant Martin (Auris) eighth, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Fiesta) ninth and Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Polo) 10th.

Rautenbach had started the day fourth, behind overnight leaders Johnny Gemmell and Drew Sturrock in a factory Auris, Poulter and Coetzee in the second factory Toyota and the Wilken Ford. 

Showing his intentions early, Rautenbach won the opening two stages (five and six) and drew level with Gemmell, relegating Poulter to third. Seldom does a manufacturer win the event it sponsors and stage seven set the seal on Toyota’s disappointment.

32km ON A FLAT

Gemmell dropped out with an overheating engine after damaging the radiator when the Toyota landed heavily over a yump on stage five. He and Scottish co-driver Sturrock had won both of Friday’s gravel stages (one and two) and started on Saturday with a 23sec lead over Rautenbach and Klinger. 

Poulter and Coetzee suffered a puncture six kilometres into stage seven and lost more than a minute as they drove the remaining 32km on the flat. This dropped them to joint fourth with Team Total Auris privateers Damseaux and Swan and behind Rautenbach, Wilken who won the stage and Kuun.

The wily veterans Kuun and Hodgson meanwhile were having the kind of day that won them the championship in 2010. They won stage eight and moved up to second overall with the final 15km tar stage at Killarney remaining. Wilken confirmed his tarmac superiority – he also won both Killarney stages on Friday - by taking this final stage ahead of former track stars Poulter and Cronje.

WAY DOWN THE FIELD: Privateer Mark Cronje had been dominant in the last few rally events. Things fell apart badly in the Cape though…

BAD WEEKEND FOR MARK CRONJE

Cronje’s chances of a fourth win in a row disappeared when he lost time on the opening day with an overheating engine. 

As the championship leader after the previous round, he started the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in first position and his radiator became clogged with grass seeds as he swept the road. 

He was further delayed on Saturday when he elected to drive through special stage five on a flat wheel and lost time when the flailing rubber ripped off large parts of the bodywork.

Factory BP VW drivers and former champions Jan Habig and Hergen Fekken were also out of luck. Habig lost time with a broken propshaft on stage seven and Fekken lost 40sec on stage six when he slowed with an overheating engine after damaging the radiator. Thanks to their hard-working VW service crews, they were able to carry on. Fekken was further delayed on stage seven with a flat tyre.

WHEEL RIPPED OFF

Notable retirements in the premier all-wheel drive S2000 class other than Gemmell and Sturrock included Giniel de Villiers and Ralph Pitchford (Polo) who were having a good run before they hit a gate post and ripped off a rear wheel on the eventful stage seven.

The final round of the championship will be the Polokwane Rally in Limpopo, a new event on the calendar, over October 22 and 23.

Comments
  • Kwashic - 2011-09-26 17:16

    GO FORD!

  • Miguel Toscano Figueira - 2011-09-27 16:35

    Bravo Ford, you´re a champion!

  • AnTiyota - 2011-09-28 10:38

    The heading of this article should have read "Ford wins Toyota Cape Dealer Rally". Zimbabwe’s Conrad Rautenbach might just as well have driven a TOYota. Make it clear Wheels24 that a Ford won a TOYota race. You always hear TOYoya won this, won that. Now Ford has once again won a race. Give them credit!!

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