Former Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers, guided by Carolyn Swan, will lead the field off the start podium in their Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 at 12:00 today for the second edition of the Bela-Bela Motor Rally in the Limpopo Province.
The short, tight and tricky fourth round of the 2015 SA National Rally Championship and the halfway mark in the series, and as such will be a make or break event for many leading teams’ championship aspirations.
Hosted in and around the historic town of Bela-Bela (“the pot that boils” in Tswana) the compact rally over two days has a total stage distance of 179 kilometres and the open sections linking the stages add up to just 55 kilometres.
De Villiers/Swan will be followed off the line by Namibians Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo, competing in the NRC4 class in their PZN Panel Beaters Toyota Auris, with Henk Lategan and Barry White (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo) next to tackle the four stages on the first day of the rally.
Fourth on the road will be the defending champions Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) with the current championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Performance Fiesta) hot on their heels.
With the Ford Performance pair winning the first three rallies on the trot Poulter and Coetzee are now 17 points adrift and needs to win in the Waterberg to keep their championship chances alive.
Japie van Niekerk, again partnered by Gerhard Snyman, but now in the rebuild New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta, will start sixth, followed by the Volkswagen Sasolracing crews of Gugu Zulu/Hilton Auffray and Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries in their Polo S2000’s.
In the S1600 class Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle in their Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2 will be first off the start podium after their class victory in the Secunda Motor Rally, followed by Richard Leeke and Rikus Fourie (ATS Ford Fiesta R2), runners up in the same event.
There will be an overnight stop at Bela-Bela after the stages today and the rally will restarts at 08:00 tomorrow for the final six special stages. The event will finish at around 14:20 at the Old Caravan Park opposite Forever Resort in Bela-Bela.