Cronje, Ford bag incident-filled Toyota Cape Dealer Rally
EVEN a late change of navigator could not prevent Ford Performance driver Mark Cronje from achieving an imposing victory in an incident-filled 2015 Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, thereby taking command of this year’s SA National Rally Championship.
Cronje’s victory in the Ford Performance Fiesta S2000 in the penultimate round of the series, coupled with a non-finish by his nearest competitors and championship leaders Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) has swung the championship odds in his favour.
For Poulter and Coetzee, and for the Castrol Toyota team, it was an event to forget.
After damaging their Toyota Yaris on Friday in an altercation with a wall at the Killarney race track, the pair had to push hard on Saturday to make up lost time.
They managed to move up to fifth position by the end of stage eight, but in the next stage Poulter hit a series of jumps at high speed, the car went end over end and rolled into a ditch next to the road, ending their onslaught.
Meanwhile Cronje and new navigator Gerhard Snyman went on to finish the 13th and final stage of the Western Cape event in a time of one hour, 53 minutes, 59,8 seconds to beat Gugu Zulu/ Hilton Auffray (Sasolracing Volkswagen Polo) by a full three minutes, a country mile in rally terms.
The proverbial sting in the tail of the rally saw to the demise of Henk Lategan/Barry White (Sasolracing Volkswagen Polo), the only team to really threaten Cronje and Snyman, in the final stage due to suspension failure.
Lategan/White won five stages on the trot in their quest to catch the Ford crew and stood a real chance when Cronje was penalised with 20 seconds for hitting a chicane in stage 11, but in the end it was in vain.
Even while not finishing they were classified fourth under Super ally rules, but will only score half the points.
Only twelve out of the 34 original starters made it to Parc Ferme at the finish — testament of how tough the event was on cars and crew. • The final rally of the season, the Polokwane Rally, scheduled for Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, in the Limpopo Province promises to be a humdinger.
Mark Cronje and new navigator Gerhard Snyman heading to vistory in their Ford Performance Fiesta S2000.