The defending national rally champions’ confident performance saw them winning seven of the ten dusty and sometimes sandy stages over the two-day event in and around the town in the Waterberg region, finishing the rally in a total time of 2 hours 5 minutes 6.9 seconds.
At the overnight stop the Toyota pair was 19.9 seconds ahead of current championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Performance Fiesta) and today they stretched their lead even further – winning by a margin of 28.8 seconds.
Cronje and Houghton had a quiet second day, seemingly content to drive sensibly and take no risks to secure second place and keep their substantial championship lead intact.
After a great performance on day one which elevated them to third position the Volkswagen Sasolracing pair of Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries (VW Polo) put in another storming drive to win stage 6 and close the gap on Cronje/Houghton.
However, two stages later disaster struck when a wheel on their Polo was destroyed when they hit an embankment, forcing them to retire.
BIG CONTEST FOR THIRD
With their demise the NAD Ford Fiesta crew of Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman became involved in a major contest for third position with Gugu Zulu and Hilton Auffray (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo) and Giniel de Villiers/Carolyn Swan in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris.
With less than 30 seconds separating them the three teams went for it hammer and tong, De Villiers ending up the joint winner (together with VW Sasolracing driver Henk Lategan) of stage 8, and all the while chipping away at Van Niekerk’s advantage.
In the end the NAD Fiesta pair just managed to hold on, beating Zulu/Auffray by a mere 3.6 seconds, with De Villiers/Swan ending up in fifth position – another 9.2 seconds adrift.
Henk Lategan/Barry White (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo) had a day to forget, losing more than a minute with two punctures and eventually ended up sixth.
Their team-mates Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit’s onslaught also ended early, in stage 9, but they were still classified ninth overall, behind privateers Ernie van der Walt/Greg Godrich (Vecto Petroleum Toyota Yaris) and Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (Toyota Auris), the first NRC4 team home.
ETIOS WINS S1600 CLASS
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios S1600) celebrated their second consecutive class victory, leading home Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz (Van Beurden Transport Ford Fiesta R2) by over a minute.
Van Beurden/Swartz was very lucky though, as a penalty they incurred saw them beat the combination of Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk Van Heerden (Fragram Toyota Etios R2) by only 1.4 seconds.
The Ford teams of Richard Leeke/ Rikus Fourie (ATS Fiesta R2) and Ashley Haigh-Smith/Damian van Ass (Castrol Fiesta R2) filled the next two positions.
In the Northern Regions championship round, held concurrently with the national rally event, the Class S5 Toyota Yaris S2000 of Van der Walt/Godrich reigned supreme with Leeke/Fourie (Class S3 Ford Fiesta S1600) second, followed by the Class S3 Toyota Tazz teams of Jaco/George Baker and Arnold Neveling/Rowan Robbertse.
The next round of the 2015 South African rally championship, the Volkswagen Rally, will take place on 17 and 18 July in the Port Elizabeth region of the Eastern Cape.
FULL RESULTS HERE
Original source: Yaris beats Fiesta in Limpopo rally