- Second to Botterill on Friday, Potgieter wins Tzaneen Saturday
The NTT Tzaneen Rally thrilled Limpopo Province MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship fans with brilliant forest and gravel stages over the weekend. Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle stormed to victory in Round 7 aboard their Gazoo Racing Toyota Starlet on Friday. But it was all change in Saturday’s Round 8, when NRC 1 rookies JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit served notice of a great future with a stunning victory on their first weekend out in NRC1 aboard their Rally Technic Hyundai i20. NRC duo Jono van Wyk and Ingrid Jeancocks meanwhile scored a double overall podium en route to two class wins.
Friday: Botterill Back in Charge
Multiple champions Botterill and Vacy-Lyle opened their NTT Rally Tzaneen account with a 5 second victory over reigning SA champion and local hero Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Labour Toyota Yaris in the 9.8 km opening stage. Benjamin Habig and Barry White led NRC2 in third in the Just Tools Volkswagen Polo, with a 5 second advantage over Jono van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacocks’s NRC 2 Ford Fiesta with Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s Salom Toyota Etios close behind. JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit used the stage to get better acquainted with their new NRC1 Rally Technic Hyundai ahead of the Johan Strauss Elzaan Venter Subaru and championship leaders Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich in essence shaking their new Rally Technic Mazda2 down.
There was little change through the 12 km second test as Botterill put 20 seconds on Joubert. Third placed Habig led Klopper and van Wyk in NRC2 as Strauss, Potgieter and Coertse followed. 18 km long, Stage 3 proved dramatic. JJ Potgieter surprised by winning from Botterill, while Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s title contending Yaris tumbled out of second place and the rally with Electrical Problems. Off the hook, championship leaders Coertse and Godrich steered their new Mazda to third from NRC2 trio van Wyk, Klopper and Habig. So, Botterill led Potgieter by 33 seconds overall, from Klopper, van Wyk, Habig and Coertse.
Botterill back on top
Botterill was back on top in the 18 km Stage 4 as he put 7 seconds on Joubert with Coertse third. Van Wyk won NRC2 from Klopper after Habig succumbed to gearbox issues to leave Strauss’ Subaru sixth behind Botterill, Potgieter, van Wyk and Coertse overall. Botterill added another 18 seconds to his lead over Joubert in the 15 km fifth stage, as Nico and Gert Nienaber’s Etios surprised with the NRC2 win in third ahead of Klopper, Coertse and van Wyk. The Nienabers went one better, second behind Botterill in 18 km Stage 5, with van Wyk third from Coertse, Potgieter and Klopper. Botterill then wrapped it up with another win on the short final test from Potgieter, Joubert, Coertse, Klopper, Strauss and van Wyk.
Overall, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Toyota Starlet powered to an emphatic 2 minute 11 second HTT Tzaneen Rally victory over NRC 1 debutants JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit in their first MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship outing aboard their new Hyundai I20. Jono Van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacocks’ Ford Fiesta closed off the overall podium with a 23 second NRC 2 win over Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s Etios, while Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich’s gamble paid off as they steered their brand new Mazda2 to fifth overall and third in NRC2 to effectively extend their overall SA championship lead.
Van Heerden retired
Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter were next home in sixth, and fourth in NRC1 in their Subaru Impreza STi from NRC2 crews, Michael Mc Gregor and Shaun Visser, and George Smalberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Volkswagen Polos, and Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta. Rally debutant, GTC racer Mandla Mdakane and Kes Naidoo’s rally ended with gearbox trouble for their Gazoo Auris to join NRC 1 rivals Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s electrically induced non finish.
The Nienabers’ great run ended in a late retirement as they joined Habig and White and Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse on the NRC 2 sidelines. And neither Anrico Opperman and Tommy Coetzee’s Polo nor Andrea and Isabel Raaths’ Toyota made the finish, meaning that no NRC4 cars scored any points.
Round 8: JJ Potgieter’s Debut Win
Saturday’s MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship Round 8 NTT Tzaneen Rally started with a similar field to Friday, bolstered by several regional competitors. Friday winners Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle were quick out of the blocks in their Gazoo Starlet, taking the short, sharp 6 km opening stage by all of two seconds from JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit, clearly far more at home in their newly acquired NRC 1 Rally Technic Hyundai I20. Theuns Joubert and Schalk Van Heerden were quickly back up to speed another two seconds back in the Salom Toyota Yaris from Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru Impreza and Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich in their all-new Rally Technic Mazda2.
The weekend went from bad to worse for NRC2 duo, Benj Habig and Barry White who had replaced their Just Tools Polo’s gearbox overnight only to break a lower control arm and exit the rally on stage 1. That left Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp leading NRC 2 in their Toyota Etios from Jono Van Wyk and Ingrid Jeacocks’ Ford Fiesta and George Smalberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Shield Volkswagen Polo. With their confidence growing, Potgieter and du Toit stormed into the rally lead with a 20 second stage 2 win from Joubert and van Heerden. But they picked up a 1 minute 50 second penalty to drop down the overall order.
Botterill in trouble in Tzaneen
Botterill and Vacy-Lyle seemed to struggle back in third in the Starlet, but teammates, circuit racer Mandla Mdakane and Kes Naidoo were starting to get the hang of the Gazoo Auris in fourth ahead of the Coertze Mazda. Jono van Wyk moved ahead in NRC2 by beating Klopper and Smallberger, who had the Strauss Subaru between them. Potgieter then beat Coertse to a Rally Technic 1-2 in 15 km stage 3 with Joubert fourth from Botterill and Strauss. Van Wyk meanwhile consolidated his NRC 2 advantage in sixth overall over Klopper and Michael Mc Gregor and Shaun Visser’s Polo. Overall, Potgieter held a 42 second advantage over Botterill, with Coertze close behind from Strauss and NRC 2 men van Wyk and Klopper.
Tzaneen’s 10-kilometre stage 4 proved decisive. Theuns Joubert took a 20 second win from JJ Potgieter as he fought back from his penalty, with NRC 2 men Klopper and van Wyk next up from Strauss and Coertse. The big news was Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle’s Gazoo Starlet succumbing to electrical gremlins to severely dent their 2022 MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship hopes and leave JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit leading overall on their first ever NRC 1 weekend. Championship leaders Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich followed as they used the weekend to shake their new NRC1 Mazda2 down, with NRC 2 men van Wyk and Klopper third and fourth ahead of the resurgent Joubert.
More drama in stage 5
Both NRC 1 crew Coertze and Godrich and Tzaneen NRC 2 frontrunners Klopper and Aucamp hit trouble in Stage 5 but both limped home to finish well down. Joubert and van Heerden meanwhile maintained their fightback with the quickest run over the 12.5 km test from leaders Potgieter and du Toit. Jono van Wyk consolidated his NRC 2 advantage in third from Strauss, McGregor and Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s NRC 2 Fiesta. Rally leaders JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit were back on top with a 15 second win over Joubert and van Heerden, who did enough to move back into second overall on the 18 km stage 6, with Coertse and Godrich third in the Mazda from NRC2 1-2 Klopper and van Wyk.
Joubert and van Heerden took the short, final 3 km stage from Potgieter and du Toit and NRC 2 duo van Wyk and Jeancocks. That would never be enough for Joubert to stop JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit from taking a brilliant overall victory in their first ever top class MRF Tyres SA Rally aboard the Rally Technic Hyundai I20. Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s fight back to second in the Salom Toyota Yaris could yet prove significant in the long run as they kept their title hopes alive through a trying weekend.
Big weekend for Jono van Wyk in Tzaneen
Tzaneen was a huge weekend for Jono Van Wyk and Ingrid Jeancocks, who drove to double overall podiums and twin NRC 2 victories in their Ford Fiesta, ahead of third NRC 1 crew Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru Impreza. NRC 2 trio, Michael Mc Gregor and Shaun Visser and Shield crew George Smalberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Volkswagen Polos followed from Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta and Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s Toyota Auris. Erik De Jager and Mauritz Britz’ regional Subaru Impreza was next from overall championship leaders Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich. They did their title aspirations no harm at all by bringing their brand new Rally Technic Mazda 2 home 10th overall and fourth in class to help extend their title advantage, all while still breaking their new car in.
Like Coertze and Godrich, Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp carried their NRC2 Toyota Etios home to an important 11th overall and sixth in NRC 2 ahead of regional NR2 winners Bruce and Lynton Swatton’s Toyota Auris. Two more regional rallyists, Ashley and Les Mackenzie’s Ford Escort beat NR4 rivals Sarel Coetser and Ciska Harding’s Datsun 160U following a classic rally-long battle, while Eddie Simpson and Louis Menge’s NR 4 Opel Corsa and Stuart Stirling and Robin Knighton’s Nr 3 Volkswagen Syncro Bus closed off the Tzaneen finishers in 15th and 16th.
Tzaneen done, Delmas next
The MRF South African Rally Championship heads to Delmas next for another double header on 16-17 September, before the finale in Dullstroom in October.