Cronje, Ford bag in­ci­dent-filled Toy­ota Cape Dealer Rally

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - CHAR­MAINE FOR­TUNE

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.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

Mark Cronje and new nav­i­ga­tor Ger­hard Sny­man head­ing to vis­tory in their Ford Per­for­mance Fi­esta S2000.

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