MRF SA Championship leaders share Algoa Rally laurels
MRF Tyres South African National Rally Championship protagonists, Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich and their Rally Technic Hyundai, and title rivals Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Labour Brokers Toyota Yaris benefited faster rivals Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s technical woes with their Gazoo Racing Toyota Starlet, to share out the fifth and sixth round wins and second places at the weekend’s 40th annual Eastern Cape Algoa Rally.
Algoa Rally Round 5: Coertse consolidateS
Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s Toyota Etios took NRC 2 honours on both days from Benjamin Habig and Barry White’s troubled Just Tools Volkswagen Polo Turbo GTI R2 and the consistent George Smalberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Shield Polo each time. Andrea and Isabel Raaths took NRC4 honours on Sunday after no cars in that class finished on Friday. Several local and regional crews among the 30 starters meanwhile put in impressive performances throughout the weekend
Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich’s Hyundai i20 took Friday’s opening 8 km Melon Up gravel stage from rapid regional S2 crew Neels Vosloo and Rickus Fourie. Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Toyota Yaris was third from local circuit racer Nick Davidson and Ashley Bezuidenhout’s S2 VW Polo. JJ Potgieter and Kes Naidoo’s Fiesta held Benjamin Habig Barry White’s VW Polo off in NRC2 as fancied duo Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Toyota Starlet struggled to 12th.
Coertse and Godrich did the double in the 22 km PPC MTO Up stage 2 from Joubert and van Heerden. Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp were the quickest NRC2 crew in their Etios from ever spectacular Cape visitor Werner Koekemoer with daughter Leane reading the notes a surprise fourth in their S4 BMW 328i. Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s NRC 1 Subaru followed from local Ross Bartle’s Polo, the delayed Botterill and Habig, as NC2 title leader JJ Potgieter retired.
Surprise Street Stage Winners
Botteril and Vacy-Lyle bounced back from their earlier power steering drivetrain troubles to dominate the 18 km Sinkdam Algoa Rally stage 3 from overall leader Coertze, Habig, second overall Joubert, Klopper and the Koekemoers. It was much the same in the Down stages 4 and 5 as the Gazoo Starlet romped to two more wins, while Coertze and Joubert shared the seconds and thirds. That saw Botterill up to second overall behind Coertze with Klopper holding Habig off a little further back.
As it often happens in street stages, there was a surprise victor in the Algoa Rally J-Bay special as locals Ross and Roxanne Bartle took the win from Joubert and van Heerden, Habig and White, Klopper and Aucamp and overall winners, the Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich Hyundai. Alas, Botterill and Vacy-Lyle hit trouble again to allow Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden back up to second from the factory pair in third. The Koekemoers sadly retired in stage 4 while Davidson was time barred.
Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp held Benjamin Habig and Barry White off for NRC 2 honours with George Smalberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Shield VW Polo 1600 R2 third in class from Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s Auris and Magriet Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Fiesta in fifth in NR2 and tenth overall. Two local crews interrupted the National top ten with Ross and Roxanne Bartle’s Johan and Juane Viljoen’s S3 Polos in sixth and seventh overall behind Habig.
Algoa Rally Round 6: Joubert squares it up
A new rally saw 29 cars come under starters orders for Round 6 of the MRF Tyre SA National Rally Championship on Saturday. Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Starlet opened proceedings with a storming 8 second 8 km Melon up stage win over Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Yaris and Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich Rally Technic Hyundai. JJ Potgieter and Kes Naidoo’s NRC2 Fiesta was fourth from local Davidson’s Polo, Habig’s NRC2 Polo and Koekemoer’s BMW.
But Botterill’s Starlet lost 15 minutes to a propshaft issue in stage 2, to allow Joubert and van Heerden to storm to victory in the 22 km MTO test by 10 seconds from Coertse and Godrich. NRC2 leaders Habig and White were third from local duo Challenor and Bishop, Klopper and Aucamp’s NRC2 Toyota Etios and Strauss and Venter’s NRC1 Subaru as NRC2 favourites JJ Potgieter and Kes Naidoo retired again. So Joubert led Coertse, Habig and Klopper overall.
Joubert took the 18 km Sinkdam stage 2 from Coertse, Davidson and Challenor, with Strauss fifth from the Koekemoer BMW. Habig limped home and would lose 27 minutes in the service park as his team replaced the gearbox to earn him and White a 4 minute penalty. Botteril and Lyle meanwhile stuttered home a long way off the pace in search of scoring a few lucky points. That left Joubert leading Coertse, NRC2 man Klopper, local hero Challenor, Strauss and Habig overall.
Coertze still ahead
Young Benjamin Habig then came out fighting to steer his turbo litre NRC2 class Just Tools Polo to win both the final stages under the direction of experienced notes man Barry White. Joubert, Coertze, Channellor, Klopper and Davidson followed Benjamin home in the 20 km MTO Down Stage 5, while Joubert, Coertze, Klopper and Nolan chased him to the finish in the 8 km Melon Down Finale.
So, Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden drove their Salom Toyota Yaris to overall victory in Saturday’s Algoa Rally Round 6 of the 2022 MRF Tyres South African National Rally Championship. Beating Friday’s winners Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich and their Rally Technic Hyundai i20 however means that there is no change at the top of the championship log as Coertze continues to lead Joubert by a similar 16-point margin. And Botterill still close enough behind to be a threat.
Local crews impressed
NRC2 winners Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp came home third overall in their Toyota Etios with Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s NRC1 Subaru Impreza STi the next National crew home from new class title leaders, Habig and Barry White’s second in NRC2 VW Polo. Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s Toyota Auris and Smalberger and Coetzee’s Shield Polo followed. Daughter and mum Andrea Isabel Raaths’ Toyota took NRC4 from Anrico Opperman and Tommy Coetzee’s Polo.
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle may have struggled home 22nd out of 24 finishers in their otherwise super-quick Gazoo Toyota Starlet, but by being fourth in NRC1, they still scored enough valuable points to keep the prospects of a come from behind title effort wide open.
Of the local Algoa Rally and regional crews, Clyde Challenor and Grayham Bishop took Class S3 in fourth overall in their VW Polo, with Nick Davidson and Ashley Bezuidenhout fifth in their S2 winning Polo 250 2000. Gordon Nolan and Henry Adams, Ross and Roxanne Bartle and Johan and Juane Viljoen’s Polos followed in S3, and Etienne Malherbe and Patrick Vermaak took S5 in their Toyota Conquest.
The MRF Tyres South African Rally Championship now moves back north for the first Tzaneen National Rally in sixteen years, in Limpopo Province 12-13 August.
Images: Jeff Latham