The 7th and final round of the South African Rally Championship takes place in Bronkhorstspruit over the weekend of 4th and 5th November and will be a special event in many ways. The Hallspeed Rally, in association with Imperial Toyota and Duxbury Netgear, will close the S2000 chapter in South Africa’s rich rally history.
With both the S2000 and S1600 Championships settled on the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in September, Toyota will be absent as a works entrant for the first time since the mid 1970s. Both Yaris S2000s have been sold; Gauteng motorsport fans will have the opportunity to see the brand new Toyota Gazoo SA Hilux Evo Dakar bakkie on the route, driven by Anthony Taylor and Carolyn Swan.
Although not part of the official entry, the Hilux Evo will open the route and give fans a rare chance to see the vehicle driven in anger before it shipped to South America.
Luke Botha and Barry White will pay homage to S2000, the pair in the Force Fuel Ford Fiesta S2000. Botha’s last event was the Volkswagen Rally, but with the experienced White alongside, and if the car stays together and upright, Botha should be a podium contender as he has won events in the mielie farms before.
Theuns Joubert and Mari van der Walt will bring their Salom Group Toyota Auris S2000 for its final outing, giving Toyota some representation. Joubert has earned two podium results in his last two outings and would love to close this chapter of his career with a hat-trick. Joubert will come under pressure from Namibian Wilro Dippenaar and Kesevan Naidoo, who will bring their PZN Panelbeaters Toyota Auris S2000 down from Namibia. Dippenaar previously raced the Auris to some giant-killing performances and last raced this car on the Tshwane Rally in 2015.
In the S1600 class, Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2) banked their third consecutive championship last time out and will be going all out for their 5th win of the year to end their successful season on a high note.
Behind the Toyota there is a three-way fight for the runner up position, headed by the winner of the last two rounds Richard Leeke and Henry Kohne (P1 Nutrition/ATS Ford Fiesta R2). They are 7 points ahead of AC Potgieter/Tommy du Toit (Lake Umuzi Volkswagen Polo R2) who have enjoyed a run of 3 podium finishes from their last 4 starts.
Paulus Franken/Pierre Arries (Manitou VW Polo R2) started the season well, but a mid-season slump in fortunes saw them drop to 4th in the S1600 standings. A runner-up podium in the Cape allowed them to ease to within two points of Potgieter.
Chris Coertse/Greg Godrich (Electrothread Toyota Etios R2) have come on strong as the year progressed, taking their maiden podium result in Heidelberg in August. Coertse knows the Gauteng Highveld terrain well and will be a dark horse for another top result.
Ashley Haigh Smith and his Irish co-driver Niall Burns (AHS Racing Ford Fiesta R2) will want to put their nightmarish Cape Rally behind them when they rolled in a very public way while lying 2nd in class. A strong result is overdue for Haigh Smith and the Hallspeed Rally could be the venue. George Smalberger and Chris Brand will be looking for a strong end to their year which saw them post the most non-finishes of any of the front-wheel drive class.
The Hallspeed Rally is also a round of the Northern Regions Rally Championship and should see entries from Jose Ferreira/Pierre Jordaan (Italian Panelbeaters Subaru Impreza), Natie Booysen/Rudolf Pretorius (Ford Escort Mk.1) and Pieter van der Walt/Johan Smit (VW Golf Mk 1). In the championship standings, AC Potgieter leads Van der Walt by 27 points so there is everything to play for with van der Walt averaging a score of over 30 points on the last three outings.
The Hallspeed Rally starts at Godrich Toyota in Bronkhorstspruit on Friday at 15h30. The eight-stage rally, totalling 146 competitive kilometres, sees two speed tests run on Friday afternoon, including the first run over the longest stage of the rally, “Yump” at 24.6km in length. Parc Ferme and Rally HQ are at the Catamaran Club, from where competitors will restart on Saturday morning at 9am. Six stages, all within 20km from the Godrich Toyota service park will keep spectators well entertained. The finish and podium ceremony takes place at The Catamaran Club with the first car expected at 15h45.