Chris Coertse & Greg Godrich are SA Rally Champions

Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich clinched the 2022 South African National Rally Championship run on MRF Tyres in sensational style at a dramatic TRAC Dullstroom Rally over the weekend. The Rally Technic Mazda2 pair bounced back after retiring from Friday’s round 11 to snatch a last gasp victory with a final stage win, to clinch the title in Saturday’s round 12.

It was a great weekend overall for the Rally Technic team as second crew, JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit brought took Friday’s rally in their Würth Hyundai R4. Despite neither finishing either of the weekend rounds, Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp wrapped up the NRC1 class title, and Anriko Opperman is the 2022 NRC Rally 4 champions after a rally of attrition on the Mpumalanga escarpment

JJ Potgieter won Friday

Friday: JJ & Tommy Strike Again

JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit made it two wins in five NRC 1 since stepping up to the top class Hyundai R4 starts, when they beat Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Toyota Starlet to victory in Friday’s TRAC seventh 2022 MRF South African National Rally Championship round at Dullstroom.

Botterill and Lyle, who remained in mathematical contention for the championship, set the early pace to beat Potgieter and du Toit to the opening stage win. Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Labour Brokers NRC 1 Toyota Yaris, which also had an outside championship chance followed, as championship leaders Coertse and Godrich kept a watching brief in fourth.

Behind them, Benjamin Habig and Barry White led the NRC 2 charge in their Just Tools VW Polo, taking an easy stage 1 win from class title leaders Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s Toyota Etios and Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse in a Auris under pressure from George Smalberger and Carolyn Swan’s Shied Polo. Further back, daughter and mum Andrea and Isabel Raaths led NRC 4 in their Toyota Run X after title rivals Anriko Opperman and James Peters’ Polo went out with Transmission trouble.

Habig won Friday NRC2

Habig was flying in his NRC3 Polo

Coertse and Godrich then took a comfortable second stage win from Potgieter and du Toit and flying NRC2 leaders Habig and White and third top class crew Joubert and van Heerden with NRC2 crew Klopper and Aucamp next. Regional leaders Jonathan Simms and Adam Tyrer’s wild Toyota Tazz followed from the delayed Botterill and Lyle’s Gazoo Starlet. NRC2 crew van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacocks Fiesta exited with no power, while the Raaths girls NRC 4 Run X also retired. Overall, Potgieter led Joubert, Coertse, Habig, Botterill and Klopper.

Botterill was right back on form to dominate stage 3 from, Joubert, Klopper and Aucamp, as Potgieter and Habig were delayed. The biggest drama were championship leaders Coertse and Godrich going out with a broken suspension lower control arm on the Mazda. Botterill then delivered another crushing stage win on the fourth special over Habig, Potgieter, Klopper, Raaths and Smalberger to move within 19 seconds of rally leader Potgieter. Potgieter however took the final two stages, over Joubert, Botterill, Habig, Klopper, Aucamp and Smalberger each time.

So, JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit took an emphatic overall TRAC Rally victory in their Hyundai R4, their second in five starts, by 56 seconds from Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Toyota Starlet. Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Toyota Yaris was third as both the Botterill and Joubert crews kept in championship contention after leaders Coertse and Godrich retired.

Guy Botterill’s Gazoo Starlet

Botterill spent the weekend in second

Benjamin Habig and Barry White troubled the NRC1 frontrunners throughout, to come home just seven seconds behind Joubert and almost three minutes clear of Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp, who could almost touch that title in their Salom Toyota Etios. Regional winners. Jonathan Simms and Adam Tyrer were sixth in their Toyota Tazz, ahead of Smalberger and Swan’s third in NRC2 Shield Polo.

Regional Subaru Impreza crews Lynton Swatton and Craig Reyneke and Kobus Marais and Caro Storm followed from Natie Booysen and Johan Smit’s NRC 1 Ford Escort Mk1. NRC 2 crews Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s Auris and the ever consistent Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie Ford Fiesta followed from regional crews, NR 3 winners Stuart Stirling and Robin Knighton in their VW Syncro ahead and NR4 winners Ashley and Les Mackenzie’s Ford Escort Mk1, Russell Stone and Bruce Swatton’s NR 3 Run X and Hennie Mostert and Willem Morgan’s NR 4 Conquest.

SA Rally
Theuns Joubert

Saturday: A Champion’s Charge

With leaders Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich retiring their Rally Technic Mazda2 from Friday’s penultimate round 2022 South African Rally Championship run on MRF TRAC Dullstroom Rally weekend, the championship remained undecided into Saturday’s final round 12. JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Hyundai may have won, but Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Toyota Starlet ending second, and Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Yaris in third, meant that both those crews were still very much in with a championship chance, should the Mazda not finish again.

Botterill and Vacy-Lyle came out of the blocks charging on Saturday morning as they took the opening stage by just over a second from Joubert and an Heerden, with Potgieter and du Toit third. Benjamin Habig and Barry White took charge of NRC2 proceedings in fourth ahead of class rivals Jono van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacock’s Ford Fiesta. Championship leaders Coertse and Godrich keeping a watching brief in sixth ahead of NRC2 title leaders Klopper and Aucamp. Further back, Etienne Lourens and Marius Labuschagne led the Raaths ladies in NRC4

Stage 2 was brutal, but Joubert and van Heerden emerged on top ahead of Botterill and Lyle, NRC 2 leaders van Wyk and Jeacocks, and Coertse and Godrich cruising in the Mazda. The stage claimed Friday winners Potgieter and du Toit with a broken radiator on the Hyundai, and NRC2 and NRC4 leaders Habig and White with broken suspension on their polo, and Polo and Lourens and Labuschagne’s Toyota Corolla RSi. Joubert led Botterill, NRC2 leader van Wyk, and Coertse overall.

SA Rally
Jono van Wyk won Saturday NRC2

Van Wyk starred in NRC2 Saturday

Stage 3 saw Botterill and Lyle take an easy win over Joubert and van Heerden to take the overall lead, with van Wyk and Jeacocks third ahead of NRC1 and 2 championship leaders Coertse and Godrich and Gerald Klopper, and Johan Aucamp. It was much the same in stage 4 as Botterill led Joubert home, as Coertse started to tun up the wick and closed down on NRC2 leader van Wyk for third overall. Smalberger and Swan meanwhile led Klopper and Aucamp home in NRC2.

Benj Habig and Barry White caused a bit of a stir when they repaired their NRC2 Polo and returned to take stage 5 overall from Coertse and Godrich and Botterill and Vacy-Lyle. Klopper and Aucamp beat an Wyk and Jeacocks Potgieter and Fourie and Smalberger and Swan to best of the NRC2 rest. The Raaths girls hopes of stealing the NRC4 title came to a grinding halt with fuel issues on their Toyota Run-X, while Joubert and van Heerden’s hopes of a repeat SA Rally title were dealt a blow when the Yaris was delayed in the stage.

Overall, Botterill led Coertse by almost two and a half minutes, meaning all that Chris needed to do was follow the Gazoo Starlet home. But Botterill was struggling with a misfire as Coertse took half his deficit out of the rally leader with the penultimate stage 6 victory over Habig, van Wyk and Botterill.

Champions Coertse & Godrich

Coertse & Godrich came from behind

The final test proved a humdinger. Coertse and Godrich piled on the pressure to take the stage win from White, Smalberger, van Wyk, Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Fiesta. The struggling Botterill followed, but he could not do enough to prevent Coertse and Godrich from taking the stage, the rally and the 2022 MRF Tyres South African National Rally Championship. There was more drama when both Joubert and an Heerden’s NRC1 Toyota Yaris and NRC2 championship leaders Klopper and Aucamp Toyota Etios succumbed to cracked sumps in that tough final stage.

So, it was game, set and match for final stage winners Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich who finished their season in fine style aboard their Rally Technic Mazda2. They also won the season ending TRAC Dullstroom Rally overall, in their fourth win of the season. They pipped Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lye, who also moved up to a championship second overall in their Gazoo Starlet.

Late starters Jono Van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacocks continued their fine NRC 2 form to take the win in their Ford Fiesta, well clear of George Smalberger and Carolyn Swan’s NRC 2 Shield VW Polo NRC2 duo. The ever-consistent Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta R2, and Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s Toyota Auris were the only other finishers.

SA Rally
NRC2 champion Klopper

Klopper took a close NRC title

Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich ultimately took a very comfortable championship to join an illustrious list of names in the South African Rallying hall of fame. They ended up a provisional 45 points clear of former champions Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lye, with outgoing champion Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden third from JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit.

Despite a pointless weekend, Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp had done enough to clinch the NRC2 title. Albeit by just ten points from Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse, with Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie provisionally just five more points behind in a fine third. And Anriko Opperman took the NRC4 title from Andrea and Isabel Raaths, despite there being no finishers in that class in Dullstroom.

That concludes a most exciting 2022 MRF Tyres South African Rally Championship. It was a strong year of reconciliation for the stage sport in SA, with far more to come in 2023. Watch this space.

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