The ATS Motorsport Young Guns, Richard Leeke and Henry Köhne, intend to continue where they left off a month ago when the fifth round of the South African National Rally Championship gets underway in Bronkhorstspruit on August 18.
The Electrothread rally starts from Godrich Toyota at 3 pm on Friday and Leeke/ Köhne are on a high: on July 22 they took their maiden overall win in the series and Leeke became the youngest ever driver (at 21 years and five months) to win a national championship rally. In the process, he broke a record that has stood since 1966, when motorsport stalwart Gerry Gericke won the Trial Oranje aged 23, in a Ford Anglia!
Victory on the Volkswagen Rally in late-July also catapulted the Young Guns to the top of the standings and their S1600 Ford Fiesta is leading by a useful four points from arch-rival Guy Botterill/Simon Vacy-Lyle who are in turn three points ahead of Chris Coertse/Greg Godrich. Interestingly, with AC Potgieter/Nico Swartz next in the standings (though some way off the top three) there are four different car brands fighting for the honours.
“We’re looking for more of the same this weekend and the championship is really starting to hot up,” said Leeke. “The outcome of the last round has actually tightened things in at the top of the log and there are multiple permutations should one of the favourites have a bad weekend. Our objective is to stay cool, calm and collected and compete on our terms – standing on the top step of the podium is a feeling we could get accustomed to!”
With the car’s pace right where they want it to be and with a further few minor tweaks made following a test session to replicate conditions expected on the weekend, they’re confident that the fast and dusty stages to the east of Pretoria will suit the Fiesta’s combination of handling and power. A total of 11 special stages and 142.8 kilometres make up the event, with three taking place on Friday and the remaining eight on Saturday morning.