Following their return to the top of the podium at the recent Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape, after a broken drive shaft in the previous round broke their four-round winning streak, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2) already have one hand on the winner’s trophy in the 2014 South African National Rally Championship for S1600 front-wheel drive cars.
With just two rounds remaining the KZN pair has accumulated 130 points out of a possible 150 from five wins and enjoy a 49-point lead over their nearest challengers with a maximum of 50 points on offer (a win is worth 25 points).
Second-placed Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz (Beurden Construction VW Polo) have 81 points and only the slimmest of mathematical chances of denying Botterill and Vacy-Lyle the title.
The focus is now on who will fill the other two places on the final podium and the minor placings. Just six points cover second to fifth, so there is still a big battle ahead for the second and third steps on the podium.
Ashley Haigh-Smith and Damian van Ass (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2) are currently third with 78.5 points, the same number as fourth-placed Matthew Vacy-Lyle, brother of Simon, and Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Tools Toyota Etios R2). Andrew Heine and former S1600 champion co-driver Robbie Coetzee (VW Polo R2) are fifth with 75 points.
In sixth place is the combination of AC Potgieter and Tommy du Toit (VW Polo) with 69,5 points, closely followed by Chris Coertse and Mari van der Walt (Electrothread Toyota Etios R2), at 16 the youngest competitor in the championship, with 68.5 points. Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo) are eighth with 68 points.
The competitiveness of the S1600 championship, which is the feeder to the premier S2000 four-wheel drive championship, is well illustrated by the fact that there are only 13 points covering second to eighth after six events and 76 special stages.
Completing the top 10 in the point standings after six rounds are two talented drivers who, along with some others currently ahead of them in the championship, represent the stars of tomorrow on whose young shoulders rests the future of special stage rallying in South Africa.
Ernie van der Walt (Ferodo Ford Fiesta R2) with 55 points is ninth and Richard Leeke Jnr (ATS Ford Fiesta R2), at 18 the youngest driver in the championship, is 10th with 50 points. Van der Walt, with current co-driver James Aldridge, and Leeke, with current co-driver Rickus Fourie, have shown both pace and skill and have a best result of third (Van der Walt in round four and Leeke in round two).