Rallying can be a cruel mistress at times.
This adage has never been truer than on the opening day of the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally.
Five stages were run today, with the competitors tackling muddy, slippery and rain-soaked speed tests with aggression. Of the 31 cars that took to stage one, 29 have survived and two of the three retirees will restart Day Two under SA SupeRally rules.
Team Total, the largest privateer rally team in South Africa, has had a promising day in their offices. Leading the charge for this four-car squad are Mohammed Moosa and Grant Martin (Team Total Toyota RunX S2000), who ended the day in 11th overall with their Class S2000 teammates Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Carolyn Swan in 12th only 6.1 seconds adrift. Both crews are a little over 01min 30sec off the event’s leaders.
Despite an overshoot into the mielie fields on stage two that cost the pairing 30 seconds, Moosa/Martin had a relatively smooth run over the slippery stages. “We’ll be pushing harder tomorrow, with the roads today that we hadn’t competed on we needed to be cautious,” said Moosa.
“The tricky conditions meant we weren’t able to take many risks on today;s stages,” said Damseaux. “The rocks and the threat of punctures kept us on the track, and we had a good feeling with the car. Tomorrow’s roads we have competed on before, and we’ll be attacking them.”
Team Total is also represented in Class S1600 by Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee and Stefanie Hugo/Angela Shields, both crews piloting Team Total Toyota RunX S1600s). The all-female pairing suffered ill fortune on this event with a series of troubles that resulted in retirement. In stage three, Hugo/Shields became stuck in a muddy section to drop over 10 minutes to their Class rivals. In the following stage, they suffered a puncture and then an electrical problem that saw their car come to an abrupt stop 700m from the end of the stage. Hugo and Shields will restart Day Two under the SA SupeRally rules.
Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee are fourth in Class S1600 and 21st at the overnight halt, with aims of moving up the leader board on tomorrow’s nine stages. Trott’s Toyota RunX is out-powered by his rivals, but he more than makes up for this with his consistent yet assertive driving style.
Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Team SASOL Ford Fiesta S2000) lead the field at the end of Day One, with rally newcomer Giniel de Villiers (BP Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000) 18.7sec back and Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Auris S2000) in third place a further 7.3sec off the leader’s pace.
Day Two’s stages are based around Bapsfontein, and action gets underway 08h56 and concludes at the RallyStar Motorsport Complex 14h40.
Follow Team Total on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TotalSouthAfrica) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/TotalSAfrica) for stage-by-stage updates of this event.
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