After their third consecutive win and fifth from the six rallies held so far, reigning SA Rally champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta) are well on their way to winning the 2013 national rally championship.
The penultimate leg of the eight-round calendar sees the country’s top exponents of gravel-stage rallying heading for Limpopo Province and the Polokwane Motor Rally this weekend. With a maximum of 50 points on offer in the last two rounds, Cronje (138 points) enjoys the relative luxury of a 40-point advantage over second-placed Johnny Gemmell, who is paired with navigator Carolyn Swan in the works Toyota Yaris.
Third overall and also in the premier S2000 class for all-wheel drive cars are former champions Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta), the only other combination to have won an event this year, who are 44.5 points in arrears and the only other crew who still have a mathematical chance of taking the title.
A MATTER OF PRIDE
While Cronje might well be headed for a second consecutive title, the battle for the remaining two podium places in the championship will be a matter of pride among at least the top six contenders, who are separated by just 20 points.
They include fourth-placed Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich (Toyota Yaris), Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray (Toyota Auris - also the leading S2000 Challenge car), Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota Yaris), and Henk Lategan and Barry White (Volkswagen Polo).
Damseaux will be concentrating on protecting his lead in the S2000 Challenge for older-specification all-wheel-drive cars after winning the category three times out of six so far. He currently enjoys a lead of 12 points over defending champions Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (Volkswagen Polo).
The Polokwane Motor Rally will start at 12pm on Friday 18 October.
It will be followed by the season-ending Garden Route Rally in the Western Cape on 15 and 16 November. - Star Motoring