KZN duo bag S1600 hon­ours

Pace and con­sis­tency of de­fend­ing champs Bot­ter­ill and Vacy-Lyle pay hand­some div­i­dends

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - CHAR­MAINE FOR­TUNE

IT was a tough sea­son and a tight bat­tle in Class S1600 of the South African Na­tional Rally Cham­pi­onship, but in the end the pace and con­sis­tency of de­fend­ing class cham­pi­ons Guy Bot­ter­ill and Si­mon Vacy-Lyle paid hand­some div­i­dends.

The KwaZulu-Natal based Yato Tools Toy­ota Etios duo won their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive S1600 cham­pi­onship af­ter scor­ing four well-earned vic­to­ries, a third and fifth po­si­tion and re­tir­ing from two events in the eight rounds of the 2015 sea­son.

The year did not start par­tic­u­larly well for the pair, as a punc­ture and brake prob­lems forced them to set­tle for a dis­tant third in their home event, the Tour Natal Rally, in March.

The first event of sea­son was won by Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne (Man­i­tou Group VW Polo) who cap­i­talised on the ex­treme bad luck of fel­low Capeto­ni­ans Ashley Haigh-Smith and Damian van Ass (Cas­trol Ford Fi­esta) who were forced to re­tire two kilo­me­tres from the end with a bro­ken wheel on their car.

They even­tu­ally fin­ished over a minute ahead of Matthew Va­cyLyle/Schalk van Heer­den (Fra­gram Tools Toy­ota Etios), Bot­ter­ill and Si­mon Vacy-Lyle’s team-mates.

The treach­er­ous con­di­tions in the Sa­sol Rally in Mpumalanga saw a high attrition rate in S1600, but Chad van Beur­den/Nico Swartz (Jem Sport VW Polo) gave good ac­count of them­selves by fin­ish­ing first in the class and eighth over­all, beat­ing log lead­ers Franken/Kohne by more than two min­utes.

How­ever, Franken and Kohne was still lead­ing the class on 28 points, fol­lowed by Vacy-Lyle/ Van Heer­den and Van Beur­den/ Swartz a fur­ther 2,5 points adrift.

Bot­ter­ill bounced back in the Se­cunda Mo­tor Rally in Mpumalanga, de­liv­er­ing an im­pres­sive per­for­mance to win the class in style, more than a minute ahead of Richard Leeke Jr. and Rikus Fourie (ATS Ford Fi­esta R2), and fin­ish­ing a fine sixth over­all.

Third in class af­ter a steady run was Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den in their Etios, but Marko Him­mel/ Fran­cois Schoombee (North Panel­beat­ers VW Polo R2), while com­pet­ing un­der Su­per­ally rules, showed some good sports­man­ship by stop­ping to as­sist Nico Higgs/Eti­enne Lourens af­ter their VW Polo caught fire in a stage.

Bot­ter­ill and Vacy-Lyle cel­e­brated their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive class vic­tory in the Bela-Bela Mo­tor Rally, fol­lowed by Van Beur­den/Swartz (now in a Jem Sport Ford Fi­esta R2) and Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den.

This moved them to the top of the leader board with 43 points — four clear of Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den, with Van Beur­den/ Swartz third on 33,5 and Franken/ Kohne down in fourth po­si­tion on 28,5 — only 1,5 points clear of Leeke/Fourie.

How­ever, the wa­ter­logged and short­ened Volk­swa­gen Rally in the East­ern Cape saw the demise of most front-run­ners, while Franken and Kohne stayed out of trou­ble, se­cur­ing the class win ahead of Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den — the only other team in the class to see the che­quered flag.

This also meant that af­ter five rounds com­pleted ear­lier points leader Si­mon Vacy-Lyle’s brother, Matthew, and co-pi­lot Van Heer­den had moved to the top of the log on 51 points, fol­lowed by Franken/Kohne on 44,5 points.

Un­for­tu­nately Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den’s class lead did not last long, as in the next event, the Im­pe­rial Toy­ota Tsh­wane Rally, they rolled out of the rally in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, vir­tu­ally de­stroy­ing the Fra­gram Tools Etios.

Mean­while their team-mates Bot­ter­ill/Si­mon Vacy-Lyle did not put a wheel wrong in their dice with Van Beur­den/Swartz, gain­ing an­other vic­tory to again lead the class (59 points) — only 2,5 points clear of Tsh­wane Rally run­ners-up Franken and Kohne.

Still in strik­ing dis­tance, with two events re­main­ing in the 2015 cham­pi­onship, was Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den on 52 points, fol­lowed by Van Beur­den/ Swartz (45) and Leeke/Fourie (34).

Bot­ter­ill/Vacy-Lyle all but wrapped up the sea­son in the penul­ti­mate event, the Toy­ota Cape Dealer Rally, win­ning the class by a huge mar­gin over team­mates Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den in a bor­rowed Fra­gram Tools Toy­ota Etios.

All that now re­mained for the pair (on 75 points) was to fin­ish sixth or higher in the fi­nal event, the Polok­wane Mo­tor Rally, in or­der to se­cure the cham­pi­onship.

They were now 11 points clear of Vacy-Lyle/Van Heer­den, with Franken/Kohne only 7,5 points fur­ther in ar­rears and Van Beur­den/Swartz fourth on 45 af­ter sit­ting out the Cape round.

The Polok­wane event saw Namib­ians Marko Him­mel/Gert Nien­aber mak­ing a strong re­turn by win­ning the class, fol­lowed by Haigh-Smith, also mak­ing a re­turn with Pa­trick Brides as co­driver, and Leeke/Fourie.

How­ever, by fin­ish­ing fifth in class Bot­ter­ill and Vacy-Lyle did enough to se­cure their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onship, as well as the S1600 driv­ers’ and nav­i­ga­tors’ ti­tles.

The 2015 NRC4 Chal­lenge for older S2000 four-wheel drive two-litre rally cars wasn’t that well sup­ported, but with one event left one of three crews could still win the chal­lenge — Piet Bakkes/Shaun Visser (Ac­ci­dent Guru Toy­ota Auris), Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (North­ern Panel Beat­ers Toy­ota Auris) and The­uns Jou­bert/Mari van der Walt (Salom Agri Toy­ota Auris).

Dippenaar/Naidoo did not en­ter the Polok­wane event, and with Bakkes/Visser re­tir­ing from the event it was Jou­bert/Van der Walt, who drove a steady rally to fin­ish sixth over­all, to win the chal­lenge and the 2015 Class NRC4 se­ries.

PHOTO: FILE

Dur­ban-based driver Guy Bot­ter­ill and Si­mon Vacy-Lyle drove their Yato Tools Toy­ota Etios to a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive S1600 cham­pi­onship this year.

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