With just three rounds to go in the 2014 South African National Rally Championship, Castrol Team Toyota feel they are heading down the home stretch for the year. With Leeroy Poulter now 27 points clear at the top of the championship standings, the team has every reason the be cautiously optimistic about their prospects on the Cape Toyota Dealer Rally.
"The Imperial Toyota Cullinan Rally was a turning point for us,"
says Team Principal Glyn Hall.
"The season started on a high note, with a first and second place on the opening event. But rallying is such a fickle sport, that you can't afford to count anything before it hatches. So even though there's still some way to go in the season, we are optimistic after another victory on the last event."
Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvéne Coetzee took charge of the Imperial Toyota Cullinan Rally - Round 5 in the championship - on the second stage of the event. The pair drove a calculated race to seal their third win of the season.
"Everything just came together for us,"
reckons Poulter of his last victory.
"And the win really put us in a strong position for the championship."
Poulter's victory was backed up by teammate Hergen Fekken, in his first season back at Toyota. Driving an identical Toyota Yaris S2000 rally machine, Fekken and navigator Carolyn Swan finished third in the Imperial Toyota Cullinan Rally. Fekken is now second overall in the championship, 3.5 points ahead of third-placed driver, Mark Cronje (Ford Fiesta S2000).
Castrol Team Toyota may be well placed for the championship, but the Cape Toyota Dealer Rally is well known for its often-waterlogged stages, incessant midges and highly unpredictable weather. So taking anything for granted is dangerous at best.
"We are confident that we are well-prepared for the rally,"
"but then again it isn't called the Cape of Storms for nothing. Not that the route takes us anywhere near the coast, at least."
This year's route is based around Durbanville, Killarney Race Circuit and the traditional stages around the Swartland town of Malmesbury.
The route is familiar territory to Imperial Toyota driver Giniel de Villiers. The Paarl resident is an avid mountain biker, and knows the hills and valleys of the Cape intimately. With navigator Greg Godrich beside him, the pair will be hoping for a good result in Round 6 of the championship. Despite showing exceptional pace throughout the season, they have been plagued by a mix of bad luck and technical gremlins, and currently find themselves in ninth place in the championship.
In class S1600, for front-wheel-drive rally machines with engines up to 1600 cc, the Durbanite pairing of Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle have dominated the 2014 championship, bagging four wins on the trot.
The youngster drives a Yato-supported Toyota Etios R2, and is currently 24 points clear at the top of the table. This means that Toyota currently leads both class championships, with just the last three rounds to go.
The Cape Toyota Dealer Rally gets under way on Friday, September 19th, with five stages run on Day 1, all in the Durbanville and Killarney areas. Day 2 features six stages around Malmesbury as well as the finale at the Meerendal wine estate.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, 4x4 Mega World, FreeM, NGK, Robor, SKF and Spanjaard.
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