Caned it: Ga­zoo Rac­ing in front

New-look SA Na­tional Rally Cham­pi­onship starts with Tour Natal

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - COLIN WINDELL

GUY Bot­ter­ill and nav­i­ga­tor Si­mon Vacy-Lyle were the first win­ners of the new-look South African Na­tional Rally Cham­pi­onships when they took their Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing Etios to a con­vinc­ing three­minute win in the su­gar-cane fields in the Tour Natal Rally — the opening round of the sea­son.

Sec­ond were Richard Leeke III and Henry Kohne in the ATS Ford Fi­esta, and their 3 minute, 22,8 sec­ond deficit may well have been less had they not suf­fered brake fail­ure on the opening spe­cial stage of Satur­day morn­ing. They were fol­lowed home by Jono van Wyk and Scott How­den, also in a Ford Fi­esta.

The new for­mat for na­tional ral­ly­ing, run for the first time, on the Tour Natal sees 1,6-litre cars with front-wheel drive do­ing bat­tle at roughly one-third of the cost of the all-wheel-drive highly mod­i­fied S2 cars from last year.

A to­tal of seven of these new cars, called R2 — started the event on Fri­day af­ter­noon, but A.C. Pot­gi­eter/Mari van der Walt (Volk­swa­gen Polo) were lucky to es­cape un­in­jured when they rolled their car on the opening stage on Satur­day morn­ing.

Ge­orge Small­berge and Chris Brand, in their newly built Volk­swa­gen Polo, were forced to re­tire on Satur­day af­ter­noon af­ter hav­ing had elec­tri­cal is­sues since the start of the event.

“Enough is enough,” said a dis­ap­pointed Brand. “The car is now run­ning on two cylin­ders and we do not want to dam­age the en­gine.”

The fourth R2 car home was the Tjaart Con­radie/ Carolyn Swan Toy­ota Etios, nine min­utes off the pace of the leader. The fi­nal R2 finishers were Chris Co­ertse and Greg Go­drich (Toy­ota Etios), who were robbed of a bet­ter plac­ing when they went off the road in stage six and lost 23 min­utes.

For the 2017 sea­son, there are ad­di­tional classes be­ing run si­mul­ta­ne­ously in their own event and cater­ing for older cars. The win­ners in the NR4 class were Lee Rose/El­vene Coet­zee (Ford Es­cort RS), fol­lowed by Rolof Co­ertse/Nico Swartz also in a Ford Es­cort and Ash­ley and Lee Macken­zie in their Es­cort.

Trevor Gra­ham/Brian Clifton (BMW 135) won the NR1 cat­e­gory with Roger de Char­moy/Clive Wil­son (Volk­swa­gen Golf) chas­ing them hard.

In the S1 KZN Re­gional Rally sec­tion Ber­tus Labuschagne/Peter Chad­wick (Volk­swa­gen Playa) had a good bat­tle through­out the event with Tony Ball/Stuart Clifton in their Lan­cia Ful­via, with Lllewe­lyn Black­ler/Lance Mor­gan-Ed­wards (Volk­swa­gen Golf 1) round­ing out the top three.

PHOTOS: COLIN WINDELL

The win­ners of the new, cheaper NR4 class were Lee Rose and El­vene Coet­zee, in their will­ing Ford Es­cort RS.

Jono van Wyk and Scott How­den came in third, also in a Ford Fi­esta.

Richard Leeke III and Henry Kohne placed their ATS Ford Fi­esta sec­ond.

Guy Bot­ter­ill and nav­i­ga­tor Si­mon Vacy-Lyle won the first leg of the na­tional rally cham­pi­onship, held on the South Coast last week­end.

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