Adrenaline junkies will be competing in this year’s SA National Rally Championship over five rounds, starting with the ever-popular Lake Umuzi Rally in Secunda on 11 and 12 September. This rally will be a “double header” with Round 1 on Friday and Round 2 on Saturday, providing double the action and excitement. The Championship will extend beyond the usual R2N class, allowing all classes to compete for overall championship honours in a move to grow the sport. Additionally, national teams will not be able to enter for regionals, allowing all regional cars to compete with each other.
The National Rally circuit usually attracts large crowds of local spectators, but this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, fans will be able to view the action via online streaming and SA Rally social media channels. “The Lake Umuzi Rally is always a great event surrounded by a community who loves motorsport action. The rally stages are uniquely situated within a 10km radius from Secunda. The business community and landowners put in a tremendous effort to grade the roads, market the event and support us as best they can,” says SA Rally administrator, William Louw. “We are also incredibly grateful to have the support of Ctrack, Electrothread, MRF, SS Telecoms, RaceDay TV, Lake Umuzi and TRACN4 in such challenging times.”
An impressive new feature at this year’s National Rally is the R4 class. This all-wheel drive FIA category was recently added to the FIA World Rally Car hierarchy to fill the gap between front wheel drives R3 & R2 categories and the all-wheel drive R5 and WRC classes. Reigning SA Champion driver Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle will be changing to an R4 spec Toyota Etios, fully FIA homologated and known as Rally 2 kit on the international stage. It is a 1600 turbo all-wheel drive, making it a little monster compared to the previous R2N class which was a front wheel drive with no turbo boost. “It’s going to be thrilling to see these cars perform as they will be super competitive. In fact, they are even faster than the 4WD S2000 cars which we were used to seeing compete for top honours up to a few years ago. We expect to see some hungry drivers biting at one another’s heels in these monsters so the action will be intense”, says Louw.
Another exciting new class this year is the Polo Vivo GT Cup. VW Motorsport’s Mike Rowe says this is an entry-level class that aims to make the sport more accessible to newcomers. “The class is designed for production based 1000cc turbocharged Volkswagen Polo cars, adapted for rallying of course. We look forward to seeing the likes of Benjamin Habig and Jayden Els joining the ranks – two youngsters who have made a great name for themselves in karting. Benjamin is the son of multiple rally champion Jannie Habig, who is no stranger to the Volkswagen brand, so it will be wonderful to see the legendary Habig name on the side of a rally car again!”