It’s make or break rally at Bela-Bela

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

Volk­swa­gen driver Gugu Zulu and new nav­i­ga­tor Hil­ton Auf­frey will be chas­ing points at Bela Bela to­mor­row to im­prove on their third place over­all.

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