|What||MRF South African Rally Championship Rounds 3 & 4 Report|
|When||10-11 June 2022|
|Community||South Africa National|
MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship thrills Mpumalanga
The past weekend’s Lake Umuzi MRF Tyres South African Rally Championship third and fourth round double header delivered a spectacular show for Highveld stage fans. Both days brought epic come-from-behind-performances as double overall winners, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle pulled off a cliffhanger Friday win, while the NRC 2 battle stole the second day Saturday show.
FRIDAY: BOTTERILL’S EPIC COMEBACK
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle's Gazoo Toyota Starlet started on the front foot with an easy 14-second stage 1 victory over Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Yaris Friday morning. Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich's Rally Technic Hyundai i20 kept them honest while JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s NRC 2 Potgieter Boerdery Ford Fiesta took charge of fourth, from Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru and Benj Habig and Barry White’s Just Tools NRC2 Polo.
Joubert and van Heerden then struck back with a two-second stage 2 victory over Botterill and Vacy-Lyle, with Coertse and Godrich in close attendance. The rally leading Starlet was sounding a bit rough as Coertse and Godrich and the Hyundai took their turn to defeat Botterill and Vacy-Lyle in stage 3, with Joubert and van Heerden close behind. Botterill and Lyle were concerned about turbo issues, but still led Joubert by 16 seconds, and Coertze in third by 20 seconds overall.
NRC2 leaders Potgieter and du Toit sat fourth ahead of Strauss and Venter in a lonely, fifth from Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s AR Panelbeaters NRC 2 Toyota Auris. With their lead under threat, the Gazoo team decided to swap the Starlet’s turbocharger. But Habig and White were in bigger trouble with engine dramas in their NRC2 VW Polo. They retired to leave Potgieter and du Toit unchallenged in NRC2 from Strauss and Venter in a lonely fifth overall, and Raaths and Ducasse.
Replacing that turbocharger ultimately cost Botterill and Lyle eight minutes of lateness out of the service park. Their resultant 1 minute 20 second penalty meant that Chris Coertze and Greg Godrich’s RallyTechnic Hyundai i10 led the rally from Theuns Joubert and Scalk van Heerden’s Salom Toyota Etios, with Botterill and Vacy-Lyle third and 47 seconds off the lead in the Gazoo Starlet. We were in for a humdinger, that much was for sure!
Botterill came out with all guns blazing to take a dominant fourth stage win by almost 20 seconds from Coertse, who also took nine seconds out of Joubert. Which meant that the Hyundai was in a slender overall lead. Another 19 second stage 5 victory over Joubert and van Heerden saw Botterill and Vacy-Lyle slash the gap even further to Joubert and van Heerden, who moved into a 10 second lead over Coertse and Godrich. The Botterill Starlet was just three seconds adrift in third.
Botterill and Lyle then turned the tables with another crushing 16 second final stage 6 victory to steal the rally win by just 2.8 seconds from Joubert and van Heerden. Coertse and Godrich cruised home third on the stage and overall, while Potgieter and du Toit rallied to NRC2 honours with a fourth on the stage. They ended up , you guessed it, fourth overall, ahead of Strauss and Venter, second in NRC2 Raaths and Ducasse, and Jonathan Simms and Hannes Pienaar’s NRC 1 Toyota Tazz.
Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta completed the NRC2 podium in eighth overall ahead of the regional leaders. NR4 top two Natie Booysen and Johan Smit’s classic Ford Escort Mk.1 led Edward and Lune Snyman’s Toyota Tazz, Hennie Mostert and Willem Morgan’s NR 1 winning Toyota Conquest and NR3 winners Stuart Stirling and Robin Knighton’s VW Syncro bus.
Notable retirements included Johan and Natasha Fourie's NR 1 Toyota Celica GT-Four when their engine stopped in the final stage, NRC 2 duo Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s Toyota Etios, and daughter and mum team Andrea and Isabel Raaths' Toyota RunX.
SATURDAY: STARLET DOUBLE, NRC2 BATTLE ROYALE
It started all over again with an all-new rally for Saturday’s fourth round National. Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle stamped authority on the day from the outset in the Gazoo Toyota Starlet with a dominant first stage win over Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich Rally Technic Hyundai i20. There was however drama when frontrunners Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s NRC 1 Salom Toyota Yaris lost close to 14 minutes after braking a wheel rim.
NRC 2 leaders Benjamin Habig and Barry White’s Just Tools VW Polo GTI was up to third from class rivals JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Potgieter Boerdery Ford Fiesta, with Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s NRC 1 Subaru fifth ahead of Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s NRC 2 Toyota Etios. Their rally would however end in stage 2, along with Jonathan Simms and Hannes Pienaar’s Toyota Tazz and Sarel and Barbara Coetzer’s Datsun as Saturday’s only retirements.
Botterill added a further 25 seconds to his lead over Coertse and Godrich, with Joubert and van Heerden second on the stage and Strauss and Venter fourth. Habig and White meanwhile edged away from Potgieter and du Toit in NRC2, with Raaths and Ducasse in pursuit. Joubert and van Heerden then broke Botterill and Vacy-Lyle’s overall charge with a narrow stage 3 win over the leaders, who were hobbled by a sideshaft issue.
The status quo appeared set up front into the fourth stage, with the real action unfolding a little further back, where Potgieter and du Toit turned the tables on Habig and White to close the NRC 2 gap down in that fourth test. It came to a head in stage 5 as Potgieter and Habig’s pace saw them both finish ahead of the Strauss Subaru. Potgieter however took 3.2 seconds out of Habig in that penultimate test, to snatch the NRC2 class lead.
So, all eyes were on that splendid NRC 2 battle as the class leaders entered the final test split by half a second overall. Alas, Habig’s Polo engine momentarily cut out in the stage, allowing Potgieter to take a 30 second class victory in fourth overall from Habig, and Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta. All that rendered Botterill’s round 4 overall win from Coertse quite academic.
Guy Botterrill and Simon Vacy-Lyle and their now finer-tuned Gazoo Toyota Starlet indeed ultimately took a two minute one second victory over the Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich RallyTechnic Hyundai i20. Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru was third ahead of NRC2 winners, JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Potgieter Boerdery Ford Fiesta, 29 seconds clear of disappointed class rivals, Benjamin Habig and Barry White’s Just Tools VW Polo GTI.
Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie completed the NRC 2 podium in sixth overall aboard their Ford Fiesta, ahead of regional NR 4 top two, Natie Booysen and Johan Smit’s Ford Escort, and Edward and Lune Snyman’s Toyota Tazz. Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s delayed NRC 1 Salom Toyota Yaris came home ninth from NRC 4 top two Anrico Opperman and Tommy Coetzee’s Shield VW Polo and Andrea and Isabel Raaths’ PTA Noord Toyota RunX.
Stuart Stirling and Robin Knighton’s entertaining NR 3 winning VW Syncro bus romped to 13th from Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s troubled AR Panelbeaters NRC Toyota Auris. The MRF South African Rally Championship shifts to Gqeberha and the fearsome Eastern Cape Longmore Forest special stages next for its fifth and 6th round, where PE’s burgeoning local rally regulars are likely to give the National regulars more than just a little to think about on 16-17 July. Diarise it now!
Issued on behalf of MRF SA Rally
For further information please contact Kobus@ms-technic.com
Click on thumbnails to Download images