With the 2014 South African National Rally Championship title already in the hands of Castrol Team Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvéne Coetzee, the attention is shifting to their teammate Hergen Fekken, for the final round of this year’s championship. The Bela-Bela Motor Rally will offer Fekken – a former double champion – the opportunity to secure second place overall for the season.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of the Bela-Bela Motor Rally,” says Team Principal Glyn Hall. “With the competition just five points ahead of us, and 25 points on offer for a win, we feel that Hergen and co-driver Carolyn Swan will have a realistic shot at taking the second spot overall.”
The pair, driving a Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000, have not won a rally in 2014, but they have racked up two third-place finishes and one second-place in the season, leaving them just five points shy of Dutch driver Hans Weijs Jnr who currently occupies second place in the standings. But since the rules dictate that each crew has to discard the points from one race, Weijs effectively stands to lose 5.5 points, putting him just behind Fekken who failed to complete one event earlier in the year, thereby not losing any points at this stage.
“This is a completely new event on the calendar,” says Fekken of the upcoming rally, “and nobody really knows what the stages will be like. As such we are confident that it will be a fair fight. But there can be no doubt that both Hans and I will come out swinging.”
Dakar veteran Giniel de Villiers, who campaigns the Imperial Toyota Yaris S2000 with navigator Greg Godrich, is currently in fifth place in the championship. With ten points separating him from 2013 National Champion Mark Cronje, De Villiers may be just too far back to mount a challenge for fourth overall – but it is a mathematical possibility, and De Villiers will certainly not give up any chance to improve on his season.
Toyota has already secured the overall championship title (Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee), as well as the Class S2000 Challenge title, thanks to a great season by Namibian Wilro Dippenaar and co-driver Kes Naidoo. The pair wrapped up proceedings in the PZN Panelbeaters Toyota Auris with one round to spare, while young Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle did exactly the same in the Yato supported Toyota Etios R2 in Class S1600.
Matthew Vacy-Lyle, who drives a Fragram Tools Toyota Etios R2 is currently in second place in the 2014 Class S1600 championship, but he is only four points ahead of his nearest competitor in the form of Brian Heine. Vacy-Lyle will need a solid performance to secure second overall, but is known as a tenacious competitor and the sport of rallying remains an unpredictable affair.
The Bela-Bela Motor Rally, final round of the 8-round South African National Rally Championship, kicks off at the Bela Mall on Friday 21 November. The event sports an exceptionally compact layout, all centered around the Limpopo town formerly known as Warmbaths. With almost all the stages within 10 km of the rally HQ at Forecer Resorts, and the Dunlop service park just across the road, this is an event geared towards easy spectating. Four special stages will take place on Friday, with six more stages being run on Saturday 22 November.