Multiple South African champion Hergen Fekken and co-driver Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) have the dubious honour of leading away the field at the ceremonial start of the two-day 510-kilometre Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, round six of the eight-event SA Rally Championship, from Imperial Toyota Cape Gate in Brackenfell in the Western Cape at two o’clock this afternoon.
Dubious because this means the 2008 and 2009 title holder will have to ‘sweep’ the loose sand and gravel road surface ahead of the other cars, following at two-minute intervals, smoothing the way for them and giving them an early advantage.
The first of today’s five special stages, over 46.83 kilometres, will start at 14:35 some 15 kilometres from Durbanville. Stages two and three will be at the Killarney motor racing circuit at Potsdam with the final two stages of the day on a short 900-metre tarmac course in and around the Cape Gate shopping centre precinct, starting at 19:00.
The Killarney circuit and Cape Gate night town stages have been specifically chosen with maximum benefit for spectators, with the fans being given every opportunity to see their favourites close up without having to travel distances between vantage points.
Second car away from the ceremonial podium at Imperial Toyota Cape Gate will be the Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo of Henk Lategan and Barry White. They will be followed by the rest of the top eight seeded drivers, all in four-wheel drive S2000 machines, and then by the remainder of the combined S2000 and S1600 (two-wheel drive cars) entry.
Defending champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Dealer Team Fiesta) are next up, ahead of, current championship leaders Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris), the Dutch/Belgian duo of Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo), Enzo Kuun and Gerhard Snyman (New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta), Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Imperial Toyota Yaris), and Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (VW Sasolracing Polo).
Heading the S1600 championship entry off the start ramp will be Ernie van der Walt and James Aldridge (Ferodo VW Polo R2), who will be followed by Chad van Beurden/Nico Swartz (Beurden Construction VW Polo R2), Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2), Matthew Vacy Lyle/Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Tools Toyota Etios R2), Ashley Haigh-Smith/Damian van Ass (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2), AC Potgieter/Tommy du Toit (VW Polo), Namibian Marko Himmel and Francois Schoonbee (VW Polo R2), and Paulus Franken/Henry Kohne (VW Polo R2).
Spectator guides, giving full details of entries and both Friday’s and Saturday’s special stages with distances and maps, are available from rally HQ at the start.