Lady Luck deserts Castrol Team Toyota in Toyota Dealer Rally
With just four stages to run Gemmell held a comfortable 21 second lead over Cronje, who was seven seconds ahead of the VW of Enzo Kuun with the Auris S2000 showing a healthy turn of speed. At this time the Fiesta S2000 of Conrad Rautenbach was back in fourth place.
As Cronje left the stop control at the end of stage seven a joint on the prop-shaft let go. Cronje and navigator Robert Paisley were able to remove the front section of the prop-shaft and drive to the service area in two wheel drive but incurred a penalty of a minute and fifty seconds in the process. This effectively ended their challenge in the event, dropping them back to sixth place.
This opened up an opportunity for Enzo Kuun (VW) and Conrad Rautenbach in the Fiesta to take up the challenge for the lead. In the end it was Rautenbach from Kuun by just 4,6 seconds with Hergen Fekken placed third a further 16 seconds back, followed by Gemmell.
The gap between Rautenbach in first and Gemmell in fourth was a minute and three seconds; less than the advantage held by Gemmell before he had the puncture. Had it not been for this misfortune Gemmell would likely have won the event. Hein Lategan brought his Team Pirtek Auris home in fifth place followed by Cronje.
Class A7 was won by Ettiene du Toit and Patrick Vermaak in a Toyota RunX. Leeroy Poulter and Henry Dearlove won Class A6, also in a RunX, while class A5 was won by Ashley Haigh-Smith and Hilton Auffray in a Yaris. Abduraghman Amlay and Garth Ritch took the honours in class N3 in their RunX RSi.
“This put us in a really strong position for the second leg of the event on Saturday. The Auris was right on the pace with Johnny setting a really quick time to take the lead on the first stage on Saturday with Mark backing him up – then we just ran out of luck.
“The encouraging aspect of this event for the sport of rallying was that we saw a very good spread of stage wins with Johnny Gemmell and Hergen Fekken taking three stages each, Enzo Kuun two, and Mark Cronje, Conrad Rautenbach and Jan Habig one stage apiece.
“This indicates the closeness of competition in the top class that we are likely to see right through the season. Our intention is to tip that balance a little bit more in favour of Toyota and our sponsors Castrol, Innovation Group, and Imperial through the rest of the season.”