RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING SA ON 2016 VOLKSWAGEN RALLY
Round 4 of the 2016 South African National Rally Championship, the Volkswagen Rally, saw Toyota Gazoo Racing SA in association with Total Quartz’ Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee record their fourth victory on the trot for the season, making it a clean sweep for them so far in 2016. Teammates Giniel de Villiers and Carolyn Swan brought the sister Toyota Yaris S2000 home in second place overall.
“The weekend went very well for us,” said Glyn Hall, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo SA Racing, after the event ended in Port Elizabeth. “Both Leeroy and Giniel drove like champions, and we’re very fortunate that Guy Botterill did exactly the same in class S1600.”
The young Durbanite and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle drove a faultless rally, leading Class S1600 from start to finish in their Yato-supported Toyota Etios S1600.
As for the two factory entries, Poulter/Coetzee had a near-faultless rally, though a spin just one kilometer from the end of the spectacular stage known as Culturama, nearly cost them the race. This 19.2 km-long stage has a fearsome reputation, thanks to the many twists and turns along the way, as well as the massive drops that prey on the minds of the crews.
“We were pushing in Culturama, knowing that the overall record was possibly within our grasp,” explained Poulter after the stage. “Everything was looking great, until we approached the end of the stage. We came into a tight bend just a bit too hot for the slippery conditions, and ended up spinning the Yaris. Luckily we didn’t hit anything, and managed to not only complete the stage, but go on to win the event.”
According to Hall, the telemetry showed that the record was well within Poulter/Coetzee’s reach, up until the moment of their spin.
De Villiers/Swan also had a moment, when they clipped a rock in stage 10 with the left front tyre of their Toyota Yaris S2000. The pair lost just over a minute as a result, but then both crews completed the rest of the event without mishap.
The 2016 Volkswagen Rally took place on the weekend of July 15th and 16th, and featured stages in both the Longmore Forest and areas surrounding Port Elizabeth. This year saw dry and dusty conditions for the first time in many years, as the event is generally known for its slippery and wet conditions.
Next up is Round 5 of this year’s championship. The event takes place on August 19th and 20th, in the area around the Gauteng town of Heidelberg.