Will the local boys be victorious in Toyota Cape Dealer Rally?


Words: Charmaine Fortune

With a multitude of Western Cape based competitors participating in the upcoming Toyota Cape Dealer Rally chances are that we could once again see a home victory for the local lads.

Photo credit: Dave Ledbitter

Some of the Western Cape locals in top teams chasing for victory in the S2000 class include the likes of Giniel de Villiers (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) and co-drivers Hilton Auffray, partnering with Gugu Zulu and Pierre Arries navigating for Hergen Fekken in the VW Sasolracing team.

In S1600 locals Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo R2) will be fighting it out with log leaders Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2) for overall class honours, while Cape based Ashley Haigh-Smith will make a welcome return to the series in his Castrol-backed Ford Fiesta R2.

Upholding a proud tradition of local teams winning in the Cape was Stellenbosch based De Villiers who last year, partnered with Greg Godrich, won the Toyota sponsored event in his Imperial Toyota backed Yaris – his first victory in the SA National Rally championship.

With a string of podium finishes in this year’s championship Dakar star De Villiers, now in a Castrol sponsored Toyota Yaris with Caroline Swan next to him, would surely like to repeat his winning performance this year.

Prior to De Villiers’ victory Cape based competitors featured in 2013 when Jean-Pierre Damseaux claimed a win in the S2000 Challenge with his Team Total Toyota Auris, partnered by local compatriot Auffray.

Somerset West-based Damseaux, son of the SA rally legend Serge Damseaux, achieved exactly the same result in 2012 partnered by Grant Martin, finishing fifth overall in the process.

Like De Villiers last year, Damseaux junior also achieved his first career victory in the Cape, winning the 2008 Swartland Rally with Cobus Vrey in a Total sponsored Toyota RunX S2000 – a historic occasion as Jean-Pierre and dad Serge became the first father and son to win a round of the national rally championship.

The year before, in 2007, Serge Damseaux’s 74th rally and final national rally victory was in the Subaru sponsored Swartland event. Earlier that year he and Robert Paisley also won the Cape based Toyota Dealer Rally in their Castrol Toyota RunX S2000.

In the preceding decades, from 1992 onwards, Damseaux, first with Vito Bonafede, later with Guy Hodgson and finally with Paisley as co-drivers, was victorious in the Cape events on a regular basis.

Such was his dominance that the Cape rallies became known as the events “in Serge’s backyard”, and only the bravest of pundits would bet against a Damseaux victory…

This year, however, with the Toyota pair of Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) and Ford Performance driver Mark Cronje (Ford Fiesta) level-pegged with two events to go, much is at stake in the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally.