It’s the Yaris vs the Fiesta
Expect an epic battle when the national rally champs starts with the Tour Natal at Scottburgh
IF the sugar cane fields around Scottburgh were a giant boxing ring, the one corner has the rallyspec Toyota Yaris, while the other corner has the all-wheel drive Ford Fiesta.
These two brands are the favourites in the national rally championships, which starts tomorrow with the Tour Natal, again based at Scottburgh.
The exciting championship pit the crews against each other in eight flat-out races across SA through to mid October, when the last leg of the rally takes place in Polokwane.
Behind the wheel of the S2000 four-wheel drive Fiesta are double national champions Mark Cronje and co-driver Robin Houghton.
The pair has established themselves as the team to beat in recent years, having claimed consecutive S2000 titles in 2012 and 2013. Although their chal- for a third title was dogged by bad luck last year, they were consistently fast and are keen to reclaim “their” title.
Houghton said the team will start off their season on the Tour Natal with the same spec vehicle they used last year, but they will have the benefit of the latest specification for the Sasol Rally in April. “We sent one of our Fiesta body shells back to M-Sport in the UK at the end of last year, and it is currently being updated to the latest level. This will ensure we have the new upgrades for the rest of the season as we fight for championship glory.
“We have the best car out there and know that we will be right at the front challenging for stage wins and overall victories,” said Mark Cronje.
“It is fantastic having the backing and support of Ford Performance and Ford South Africa, and we hope to add even more silverware to the trophy cabinet throughout the season.”
Ford Motorsport manager John Nagel said this year sees Ford’s strongest assault yet on the respective titles. “We have every confidence that the crews will be challenging for victory in every round and doing Ford and its loyal supporters proud.”
IN THE CASTROL TEAM TOYOTA CORNER
Leeroy Poulter, who won his first South African National Rally Championship in 2014, will again campaign the proven Toyota Yaris S2000 rally car partnered with Elvéne Coetzee, who in 2014 became the first female navigator to win the championship in more than five decades. The pair have now proven their mettle by winning four rounds of the eight-round championship in 2014, backed up by two second-place finishes.
They will be joined in the second Yaris by Dakar veteran and multiple national motorsport champion Giniel de Villiers. Fresh from a stunning secondlenge place finish on this year’s Dakar Rally in South America, De Villiers will have highly experienced navigator Carolyn Swan alongside him in the Toyota Yaris S2000.
Toyota South Africa Motors is also proud to be associated with a number of privateers, who campaign a variety of Toyota products.
The most notable performances in 2014 were by Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle in their Toyota Etios R2 S1600.
They won six of the eight rounds and had the title in the bag with a round to spare. Their S1600 Etios is locally developed and supported by Yato.
LEFT: Defending champs Toyota has given its rally-spec Yaris S2000 a new nose to make it look like the Yaris on sale on shopfloor.
ABOVE: Double national champions Mark Cronje and codriver Robin Houghton are keen to take the Yaris down a peg or two.