A broken driveshaft on day two of the recent Imperial Toyota Cullinan Rally brought to an abrupt end the four-round winning streak of KZN’s Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Tools Toyota Etios R2) and saw their 44-point lead in the 2014 South African Rally National Championship for S1600 front-wheel drive cars reduced to 24 points.
Major beneficiary was the in-form duo of Chad van Beurden and Nico Swartz (Beurden Construction VW Polo), who won eight of the 12 special stages on their way to a 29-second victory over Ashley Haigh-Smith and Damian van As (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2) and second place in the championship. Van Beurden and Swartz were second in the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape in July and thanks to their debut victory last time out are in strong contention to challenge for the title.
With the Ford duo winning three of the special stages and third in the championship with 71 points, Botterill and Vacy-Lyle need to quickly regain their winning form. The top three crews are separated by 34 points with a maximum total of 75 on offer in the three remaining rounds. All three are genuine contenders for the title, which will be a first for any of them. The competition is fierce all the way down the field with just 19,5 points separating fourth from 10th.
Matthew Vacy-Lyle, Simon’s brother, and Schalk van Heerden (Fragram Tools Toyota Etios R2) are fourth with 62,5 points and looking to improve on their best result so far of fourth last time out. Good performances can also be expected of Andrew Heine and former S1600 champion co-driver Robbie Coetzee (VW Polo R2), who claimed their second podium finish of the season in Cullinan, equalling their third place in the opening round in KwaZulu-Natal.
Crews with potential to upset the applecart include AC Potgieter and Tommy du Toit (VW Polo), 18-year-old Richard Leeke Jnr and Rickus Fourie (ATS Ford Fiesta R2), Chris Coertse and 16-year-old Mari van der Walt (Electrothread Toyota Etios R2), Ernie van der Walt and James Aldridge (Ferodo Ford Fiesta R2) and Paulus Franken and Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo).