With two rounds of the eight-round South African National Rally Championship remaining – the Polokwane Motor Rally in Limpopo on October 17 and 18 and the final round on November 21 and 22 at a location still to be confirmed –there are just four crews with a realistic chance of taking the coveted title and a fifth who is still in with a mathematical chance.
Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) lead the title chase with 124 points, 31 clear of team-mates Hergen Fekken, champion in 2008 and 2009, and Carolyn Swan in a second Castrol Yaris. Third on 87.5 points, 36.5 behind the leaders are 2012 and 2013 champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Dealer Team Fiesta). Hans Weijs Jnr of Holland and Bjorn Degandt of Belgium (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo) are fourth with 84.5 points, 39.5 in arrears.
With just 50 points on offer (25 points for a win), one of these four is likely to be standing on the top step of the podium when the dust finally settles over a thrilling and closely-fought season of some 96 high-speed special stages over eight rallies in six provinces.
Currently fifth in the overall standings with 74.5 points and 49.5 behind Poulter and Coetzee are Henk Lategan and Barry White (VW Sasolracing Polo). While they are as capable of winning one of the last two rounds as any of the top four crews, their chances of taking the title are mathematical at best.
Poulter and Cronje will be hard to beat, though, as they have dominated proceedings to date, winning five of the six rounds between them (Poulter three times and Cronje twice) and claiming the lion’s share of the special stage victories (Cronje leads Poulter by 29 to 21 from 76 stages to date).
Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Imperial Toyota Yaris) were popular first-time winners together in the most recent round, the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape a few weeks ago and while they are out of championship contention – they have 69 points and are sixth in the standings – they will be looking for more wins.
Fekken, Weijs, Lategan and Japie van Niekerk (New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta) , eighth in the championship to date with 48 points, are all seeking a maiden win and are quite capable of achieving this before the season is over.
Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (Sasolracing VW Polo) are seventh in the standings with 59 points. They have adapted well to the top S2000 four-wheel drive class after moving up from the S2000 Challenge class for older specification four-wheel drive cars, where they were third last year and the Challenge winners in 2012. They will be aiming at bettering their best result to date of fourth in rounds two and four.
Namibian Thilo Himmel and Armand du Toit (VW Polo) are ninth with 48 points after switching from the S2000 Challenge to S2000 after round two.
Making up the top 10 are Namibian Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota Auris) with 44,5 points and Piet Bakkes and Shaun Visser (Toyota RunX) with 43 points. These two crews are first and second in the S2000 Challenge.
Toyota leads the manufacturers’ championship with 555 points from Volkswagen (452.5) and Ford (337.5).