It’s make or break rally at Bela-Bela
TOMORROW’S short, tight and tricky Bela-Bela Motor Rally in Limpopo will be the make or break for many leading teams’ championship aspirations.
Like last year, the rally will be held in a relatively compact arena to benefit the spectators.
The organisers, the Rally Commission of Motorsport South Africa, said virtually every stage is just 10 km away from the central rally headquarters and service area. The total stage distance for the two days is 178 km and the open sections linking the stages add up to just 55 km.
Four stages will be run tomorrow, with a ceremonial start from the Bela Mall in Mark Street at noon. Racing continues on Saturday after an overnight stop at BelaBela, with the rally finishing at around 2.30 pm at the Forever Resort in Bela-Bela.
One of the event liaison sections on Friday will run through the Bela-Bela Ext 8 Township. The Rotary Club of Warmbaths has also thrown its weight behind the event and will again turn the Dunlop Service Park into a Rotary International Fan Park for the weekend.
Given the short and compact nature of the event, reigning champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) will have their work cut out for them if they want to stay in the hunt for this year’s championship.
With Mark Cronjé and Robin Houghton (Ford Performance Fiesta) victorious in three events on the trot, the Toyota pair need to win in the Waterberg to keep their championship chances alive.
The same applies for third-placed Gugu Zulu, now with Hilton Auffray in the navigator’s seat, in his Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo. Besides keeping his championship hopes alive, Zulu needs a good result if he wants to keep Giniel de Villiers/Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) behind him. A good result will also be crucial in the hotly contested S1600 class.
With Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Toyota Etios), Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo R2) and Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios) separated by only three points, a good performance in the Waterberg will be advantageous going into the second part of the season.
Richard Leeke, chairperson of the Rally Commission of Motorsport South Africa, again thanked the farmers for allowing the use of their private roads, both to access the special stages and for the special stages.
Where to see more
NRC footage is being uploaded on an ongoing basis and eventually all the rallies of the last few seasons will be available to view online. The S2000 footage for the Secunda Motor Rally is being uploaded and should be available to view within the next couple of days. Follow the link: www.youtube.com/channel/UCT6MqAt1IyiBZAaKKRmJz7g/ feed
Volkswagen driver Gugu Zulu and new navigator Hilton Auffrey will be chasing points at Bela Bela tomorrow to improve on their third place overall.