Poul­ter adds rally champ to lo­cal cross coun­try ti­tle

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - CHAR­MAINE FOR­TUNE

THE 2016 South African Na­tional Rally Cham­pi­onship ti­tle fight is over, as Toyota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA, in as­so­ci­a­tion with To­tal Quartz, wrapped things up on their home rally, the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, this week­end.

Leeroy Poul­ter/Elvéne Coet­zee fin­ished in sec­ond place, bag­ging enough points to close out the cham­pi­onship with one round to spare. At the same time, team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Carolyn Swan placed their Toyota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA Yaris S2000 on the top step, with De Villiers win­ning his sec­ond Toyota Cape Dealer Rally.

“It was a great re­sult for us this week­end,” Toyota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA team prin­ci­pal Glyn Hall said from the podium cer­e­mony at the Malmes­bury Sports Club. “With Leeroy and Elvéne win­ning the 2016 ti­tle, and Giniel and Carolyn tak­ing a well-de­served vic­tory here in the Swart­land.”

De Villiers/Swan proved to be in a class of their own in the Cape — also the scene of De Villiers’s first rally vic­tory, when he won the event in 2014 to­gether with nav­i­ga­tor Greg Go­drich.

This year De Villiers/Swan pow­ered their way to vic­tory by win­ning all but two of the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally’s 12 stages. Vic­tory on Stage 6 and 12 went to team­mates Poul­ter/Coet­zee.

“We had a re­ally good event,” said an elated De Villiers af­ter spray­ing sparkling wine from the top step of the podium. “The Toyota Yaris ran fault­lessly, and we had clean runs through al­most ev­ery stage. It feels great to win again.”

For Poul­ter/Coet­zee, the week­end marked the end of their un­beaten streak in the 2016 rally cham­pi­onship.

With that said, they bagged enough points to seal the 2016 ti­tle with a round to spare, and Poul­ter now counts among a small num­ber of driv­ers to achieve cham­pi­onship vic­to­ries in both ral­ly­ing and cross-coun­try rac­ing.

“We lost a lot of time af­ter suf­fer­ing two punc­tures on Stage 8,” said Poul­ter. “It was just bad luck, but it took us out of the fight for the win.”

With just two rounds re­main­ing in the Don­ald­son Cross-Coun­try Cham­pi­onship for 2016, and Poul­ter cur­rently lead­ing the ti­tle chase to­gether with nav­i­ga­tor Rob Howie, Poul­ter may well match Hannes Grob­ler as the only driver to win both ti­tles in the same year.

Be­hind the two fac­tory Toyota Yaris S2000s, pri­va­teer The­uns Jou­bert and nav­i­ga­tor Mari van der Walt (Shalom Rac­ing Toyota Auris NRC4) com­pleted the Toyota lock-out of the podium, by fin­ish­ing in third place in the over­all stand­ings.

Things didn’t pan out as planned for de­fend­ing Class S1600 cham­pi­ons Guy Bot­ter­ill and nav­i­ga­tor Si­mon Vacy-Lyle. The pair were well in con­trol of the Class S1600 bat­tle, when they ap­proached a farm gate near the end of Stage 8.

It seemed that the wind may have pushed the gate slightly closed, and the pair made con­tact with the gate at high speed.

Cos­met­i­cally the Yato Toyota Etios S1600 es­caped with only mi­nor dam­age, but un­der its skin the ra­di­a­tor was punc­tured. “This meant that the engine over­heated, and we were forced to stop. Not the way we wanted to win the cham­pi­onship,” said Bot­ter­ill. De­spite the non-fin­ish in Cape Town, the pair had amassed more than enough points through the sea­son to claim the class ti­tle, adding to their two pre­vi­ous cham­pi­onship wins.

“Over­all we have ev­ery rea­son to be ec­static with our re­sults,” said Hall. “We achieved all of our goals this week­end: We won our home rally; Leeroy and Elvéne sealed the cham­pi­onship; and Guy and Si­mon made it three cham­pi­onships in a row.”

With a great spec­ta­tor turnout, there is no doubt that the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally was one of the high­lights of the year. Next up is the fi­nal round of the sea­son, which is sched­uled to take place in Gaut­eng, over the week­end of Oc­to­ber 21 and 22.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Leeroy Poul­ter and Elvéne Coet­zee thrill the fans on their way to be­com­ing rally champs in their race-tuned Yaris.

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