CASTROL TEAM TOYOTA ENDS SEASON WITH PODIUM FINISH 22 November 2014
The 2014 South African National Rally Championship drew to a close at the end of the Bela-Bela Motor Rally, which took place in the area around the Limpopo town formerly known as Warmbaths on 21 and 22 November. This was round eight of the championship, and a third-place finish by Castrol Team Toyota’s Hergen Fekken and navigator Carolyn Swan saw the team conclude the season with yet another podium finish – the tenth for the team this year.
"We are very pleased with Hergen and Carolyn’s third-place on the Bela-Bela Motor Rally,” said Team Principal Glyn Hall after the event. “This means that we have not only taken the championship, thanks to the performance of Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee throughout the year, but we’ve now added third place overall to our tally for the 2014 season.”
Fekken/Swan, driving the Castrol Team Toyota Yaris S2000 had to beat Dutch driver Hans Weijs and navigator Björn Degandt (Volkswagen) in the final round, in order to take second place in the overall championship. A minor back injury sustained by Fekken in the service park, shortly before the start of the rally may have played a role in the outcome – but despite a strong showing by Fekken and Swan, they were bested on the day by Weijs and Degandt, who went on to record their second rally victory in the South African championship.
The event started with a bang for Castrol Team Toyota, as 2014 national rally champions, Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvéne Coetzee, blitzed the opening stages of the rally, winning three of the four stages on Day 1, and ending the day with a lead of more than 14 seconds. The pair again dominated early on Day 2, clearly showing why they are the champions. An engine misfire on Stage 7 put a halt to their progress, however, as Poulter decided to retire the normally reliable Toyota Yaris S2000, rather than risk extensive engine damage by continuing.
Castrol Team Toyota won the overall South African National Rally Championship this year – their first overall victory in ten years. Toyota also won the Class S2000 Challenge Championship (for older specification S2000 rally cars) for 2014 at the hands of young Namibian driver Wilro Dippenaar and his navigator Kes Naidoo (PZN Panelbeaters Toyota Auris). In Class S1600, Toyota also claimed the championship title, thanks to an impressive performance by Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle, in the Yato-supported Toyota Etios R2.
While Elvéne Coetzee clinched the overall championship title as navigator, team mate Carolyn Swan managed to bag second place in the championship, as she had competed in all eight rounds this year, while her nearest competitor missed out on one round. This is the first time in South African rally history where female co-drivers claimed first and second place in the championship.
“We were hoping to add a second place in the driver’s championship to our season,” continued Hall, “but it just wasn’t to be this time. Still, 2014 has been a great season for the rally team, and now we look forward to next weekend’s conclusion of the South African National Cross-Country Championship.”
After eight rounds of the rally championship, Toyota occupied first place (Poulter/Coetzee), third place (Fekken/Swan), fifth place (De Villiers/Godrich – Imperial Team Toyota Yaris S2000) and eigth place (Dippenaar/Naidoo – Class S2000 Challenge Champions).
CASTROL TEAM TOYOTA AIMING TO ADD SECOND OVERALL TO THEIR 2014 NATIONAL RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 17 November 2014
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.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, 4x4 Mega World, FreeM, NGK, Robor, SKF and Spanjaard.
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