It has now become a standard feature on South African rallies that form part of the SA Rally Championship that the two-time Drivers and Navogators champions take the lead on a rally from the start of stage 1. That was the case this morning at the start of the Sasol Rally in Sabie, round two of the African and South African Rally Championship.
Cronje won the stage in wet conditions after heavy overnight rain. But it was close. And as it has been the case on previous rallies, his arch rival, Leeroy Poulter, in a Team Castrol Toyota Yaris, followed in second place only 0.8 sec slower. Third was the young gun from Sasol Volkswagen Racing in a Volkswagen Polo, Henk ategan, who had the dubious honour of starting first on the road.
But it did not stay that close for very long.At the end of stageb three Cronje was leading with an overall time of 48:12.7, 27.0 sec ahead of Poulter with Lategan third 1:19.7 further back.
Fourth was Japie van Niekerk in his NAD Ford Fiesta S2000 +2:16.7, followed by Gugu Zulu in the other Sasol Volkswagenracing Polo + 2:46.8.
Giniel de Villiers was in 6th position in the other Team Castrol Toyota Yaris +3:08.4 with Namibia’s Wilro Dippenaar in the NRC4 class Toyota Auris 7th +4:49.5.
Ernie van der Walt , making his debut in the ex-Giniel Class S2000 Toyota Yaris was nextup + 4:57.3 followed by Thilo Himmel in a Volkswagen Polo +5:18.1.
Hans Weijs in a Sasol Volkswagenracing Polo, who incurred a five minute penalty at the start because of a recce infringement was 10th.
Jaspreet Chatthe, from Kenya who won the recent Ivory Coast rally, was leading the African Rally Championship in his Mitsubishi Evo and was 11th overall.
The leader in Class S1600 was Chad van Beurden in a Volkswagen Polo, followed by Paul Franken.
The rally will consist of seven stages today amd finish in Nelspruit.