With two wins on the trot making up for an uncharacteristically slow start to the year, Mark Cronje in the Ford Fiesta is hot favourite as the championship enters its second half. Picture: Eric Buijs

Pretoria - Round five of the SA Rally Championship has a new sponsor – Imperial Toyota – and will see the second half of the season start from the traditional ramp at the Zonderwater Correctional Services facility in Cullinan, east of Pretoria on Friday.

The rally will feature some new special stages which will be part of the same challenging mix of farm roads in a predominantly mealie-growing area with some bush and tight, twisty sections.

The two-day route will cover some 400km of which about 160km will be timed special stages on gravel surfaces only – six on Friday and six on Saturday.

The Cullinan Rally will start from the Zonderwater facility at 11am on Friday.

After an overnight stop at Zonderwater the event will restart on Saturday at 8am and is expected to finish about 3pm.

With four rounds of the championship remaining Toyota works crew Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee (Toyota Yaris) lead the standings with 78 points, 15.5 ahead of the Dutch/Belgian duo of Hans Weijs Jnr and Bjorn Degandt in a factory Volkswagen Polo.

Just 11 points covers second to fifth, with any of the top six crews capable of taking the victory in Cullinan. Defending champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta), who won the inaugural Cullinan Rally in 2013, are fourth in the championship and are coming off consecutive wins in the past two rounds.

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