Malmesbury, Western Cape - Giniel de Villiers and Carolyn Swan in their Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris S2000 dominated the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape at the weekend, leading from start to finish, but it was Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee who got all the cheers.
Their second-placed finish was enough to nail down the 2016 South African Rally championship with one round still to go - which, since he and Rob Howie are leading the SA Cross-Country series with two races left, could make Poulter the first driver to win both the National Rally and Off-Road titles in the same year since Hannes Grobler in 1986, when Ms Coetzee was just three years old!
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy Lyle didn't even finish - they crashed their Toyota Etios R2 into a gatepost in stage 8 - but they still clinched the S1600 title, their third in succession, because this non-finish and zero points became their dropped score for the year, and they cannot be beaten at the final round.
De Villiers took command of the rally from the first stage at Killarney Raceway on Friday afternoon. With an overnight lead of 6.7s, he won six of Saturday's eight stages, to build a winning margin of 5m 52.1s.
The exciting but expensive S2000 class will be phased out at the end of the 2016 season and De Villiers' car has been sold overseas, making his second win a fitting end to his rally career.
"I really wanted to win my last rally", said De Villiers at the finish. "Other than a slow puncture after stage 7, we had a clean run. It's sad to see the end of S2000 as they are great to drive and to watch".
Poulter, who may also have competed in his last rally, was satisfied with his result.
"I've never had much luck on this event in the past," he admitted. "I've had a blown engine and a massive roll, so I'll take this finish. Giniel drove like a man possessed."
Poulter and Coetzee suffered a double puncture when, in a vain chase, he cut a corner too close and sliced two tyres open. They changed one wheel at the end of the stage, and limped 20km back to service at 15km/h, arriving 24 minutes late and incurring a four-minute penalty.
Third overall were Theuns Joubert and Mari van der Walt in their privatel entered Toyota Auris S2000 after a clean run - until the final stage, when the Auris clipped a gatepost, re-arranging the front of the previously immaculate car.
Richard Leeke and Henry Kohne in a Ford Fiesta R2 took their second consecutive S1600 victory after Botterill and Vacy-Lyle retired. Late in the rally however, they came under pressure from Paulus Franken and Pierre Arries (Volkswagen Polo R2) as the VW crew took five stages on Saturday. The result came down to the penultimate stage when the two set virtually identical times.
AC Potgieter and Tommy du Toit brought their Polo R2 home to another podium in spite of losing second gear in stage 6 and having to run stages seven and eight as well, before the team could replace the faulty unit.
Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich (Toyota Etios R2) battled on the tarmac stages with failing brakes; a change of brake fluid solved that problem. Power steering issues kept them off podium pace but they did enough to finish fourth in class.
George Smalberger and Chris Brand (VW Polo R2) came home fifth in class after losing 24 minutes in stage 8 when the driveshaft kept pulling out, forcing them to stop each time to put it back.
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