Wet weather cuts Sasol Rally short

Sport
Top three finishers of Sasol Rally 2013 from left to right - 3rd Leeroy Poulter and Alvene Coetzee, 1st Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton and 2nd Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson. Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Top three finishers of Sasol Rally 2013 from left to right - 3rd Leeroy Poulter and Alvene Coetzee, 1st Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton and 2nd Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson. Picture: enCA / Adiel Adams
18-year-old Rally sensation Henk Lategan and navigator Barry White won Stage 12 and finished fourth overall in Class S2000 of Sasol Rally 2013 in their Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo - Nelspruit. Picture: enCA / Adiel Adams
Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton negotiating the final few turns of the last Stage during the Sasol Rally 2013 - Nelspruit Showgrounds. Picture: enCA / Adiel Adams
Crowd favourite Gugu Zulu getting bogged down in the mud on Stage 11 of Sasol Rally 2013 in Hendriksdal, Sabie Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo of Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd retired on Stage 4 of 2013 Sasol Rally, after blowing its engine - Sabie in Mpumalanga Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Eighteen-year-old Henk Lategan in his Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo racing blindly in misty conditions on Stage 4 of Sasol Rally 2013, Graskop in Mpumalanga. Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Morne Janse van Rensburg getting out of shape on Stage 1 of Sasol Rally 2013, Sabie, Mpumalanga. Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
British pair of Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson first on the road on Stage 1 of 2013 Sasol Rally, Sabie Mpumalanga. Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Teams in Parc ferme, before the start of the Sasol Rally 2013, Sabie, Mpumalanga 19 April 2013. Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams
Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries sliding through a turn on Stage 11 of the Sasol Rally in Hendriksdal, Sabie, April 2013 . Picture: eNCA / Adiel Adams

Mpumalanga - The second edition to the South African National and FIA African Rally Championships got under way in Sabie, Mpumalanga at 10am on Friday 19 April 2013.

The Sasol Rally is one of the most grueling races on the National Rally Calender, and this year things were made worse by rainy and misty conditions.

 

DAY ONE

Day One saw the first two casualties of the rally, Wilro Dippenaar in his Toyota Auris and Zambian entrant, Mohammed Essa in his Subaru Impreza. Both had blown engines and retired on Stage 1. 

Visiting British competitors, Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson in a Ford Fiesta on loan from South African champion Mark Cronje, got off to a good start and led the event after two stages.

The pair made their first appearance in South Africa on a guest basis and not scoring points. 

Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in the Ford Racing Fiesta, lead the local championship pack by 50 seconds from Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Yaris).

Third, a further 16 seconds in arrears, was the first Sasolracing VW Polo of 18-year-old youngster Henk Lategan, and Barry White.

Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin in another Sasolracing VW Polo were in fifth, behind Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan in another Castrol Toyota Yaris, with the pair leading the Class 2000 Challenge for older model two-litre, four-wheel-drive cars.

Local Dakar-star Giniel de Villiers and navigator Greg Godrich in the newly-launched Imperial Toyota Yaris, hit a rock and damaged a wishbone and steering arm, effectively forcing them to retire on Stage 2.

Team mates Gemmell and Swan, also returned to the service park in Sabie to attend to damage to the front end of their Yaris after going off the road on the same stage.

The ever-popular special stage 6, in Sabie CBD, again attracted plenty of locals, who were treated to some spectacular night-driving on the tarred stage with two chicanes and three hairpin bends.

By the end of Day One, reigning SA Champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in the Ford Racing Fiesta, had taken over the lead from the visiting British pair in the sister car, and enjoyed a 54 second advantage.

 

DAY TWO

The First Stage of Day Two was an all-tarred event called the Spaghetti Junction, where two cars are pitted against each other, in a race against the clock and each other. This stage has proven itself to be the most popular of the rally, where all the action is visible from a single vantage point.

The weather however, worsened overnight and the organisers were forced to cancel Special Stages 13 and 14 for safety reasons.

This effectively ended the rally, with only the last sports ground stage to be negotiated.

By then, the Ford Fiesta pairing of Cronje and Houghton, had built up an unassailable two minute lead, and only had to cross the finish-line to be declared back-to-back winners in this year’s opening events of the National Championship.

It was also the second year in a row this pair walked away with top honours of the Sasol Rally.

The next event on the National Rally calendar is the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally, which takes place from 31 May - 1 June 2013

 

- Adiel Adams

-eNCA

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