Words & Photo: Charmaine Fortune
The Opening round of the 2014 SA National Rally Championship promises much in the way of excitement and close competition as it gets underway in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast this afternoon.
The crème of South African special stage rally team have gathered for the traditional opening round among the sugarcane fields in the Scottburgh area.
Also contesting the event will be the visiting Dutch/Belgian combination of Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt in a factory Sasolracing VW Polo, who will be the first car to start the first of today’s six special stages. The pair impressed on their debut appearance in SA in 2012 and have returned to strengthen the Sasolracing Volkswagen factory team.
They will followed at two minute intervals by Giniel de Villiers/Greg Godrich Imperial Toyota Yaris; Gugu Zulu/Charl Peskin Sasolracing VW Polo who make their debit appearance in the Premier S2000 category; Hergen Fekken/Carolyn Swan Castrol Toyota Yaris; Henk Lategan/Pierre Arries Sasolracing VW Polo; Jape van Niekerk /Gerhard Snyman New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta; defending champions Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton Ford Dealer Team Fiesta and Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee Castrol Toyota Yaris.
These are the top eight seeded drivers who drew their start positions for this event.
Ahead of them lie two days and 14 special stages on fast loose gravel roads in the sugarcane farm lands of the South Coast.
As usual the SA National Rally Championship consists of two principal categories – the four-wheel drive S200 class and the two-wheel drive S1600 class.
A strong entry in the S1600 class it headed by defending champions Clint Weston/Christoff Snyders who will have their hands full this season with an increasingly young and determined field of talented crews competing for the title.
The first S1600 away today will be the ATS Ford Fiesta of Richard Leeke Junior/Michael Gilbey in 13th position on the road. They will be followed by Marko Himmel/Francois Schoonbee VW Polo; Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne also in a VW polo.
All three represent the up and coming young talent that the sport of special stage rallying is currently attracting.
Weston/Snyders (Reef Tankers Citroen R2) chief rivals are expected to include Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle Toyota Etios; Chad van Beurden/Nico Swartz VW Polo; Matthew Vacy-Lyle/Schalk van Heerden Toyota Etios R2; Ashley Haigh-Smith/Damian van Ass Ford Fiesta R2 and Chris Coertse/ Mari van der Walt Toyota Etios.
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