THE FIRST CAR to leave the start ramp at the RallyStar Driving Academy near Bapsfontein will be the Ford Dealer Team Fiesta of defending champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton.
They will be followed by current championship leaders Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris), the visiting Dutch/Belgian duo of Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt (Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo), Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Imperial Toyota Yaris), Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (VW Sasolracing Polo), Hergen Fekken and Carolyn Swan in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris, Henk Lategan and Barry White in the third VW Sasolracing Polo and Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman (New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta).
Starting first on the road can be seen to be something of a disadvantage as you end up ‘sweeping’ the road surface for the cars behind you and making their passage easier.
For this reason the top eight seeded drivers in the championship (the positions are averaged over eight events based on special stage results) are rotated so that each has an opportunity to start first on each event. Cronje is currently seeded first ahead of Poulter and Weijs.
After dominating the past two seasons, Cronje and Houghton find themselves in a lowly 14th and 15th place in their respective championships and 43,5 points behind Poulter and Coetzee after their worst ever start to a season. There would be no better time for them to take their first victory of the season than this weekend.
They can expect stiff competition from the three factory Toyotas and the three factory Volkswagens with Van Niekerk and Groenewald always candidates for a podium finish in the other privateer Ford if they, too, enjoy better luck than they’ve had so far this season.
Today’s action finishes at around 15:00 with the restart at 09:00 tomorrow from RallyStar.
author: Charmaine Fortune