National Rally Championships

Fourth podium for new Yaris rally outfit

Dominant national rally championship victory for reigning champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton

Toyota Motorsport South Africa’s all-new for 2013 Castrol-backed Yaris S2000 rally car continues to impress in its first season in the highly competitive South African Rally Championship. In round five, the Ford Dealer Rally in the Cullinan area of Gauteng on Friday and Saturday, Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan finished third to give the locally-built and developed four-wheel drive Yaris its fourth consecutive podium in five events.

Team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee finished a close fourth in the second Castrol Team Toyota Yaris after starting the final day in eighth place. They were penalised a total of 70 seconds for two unintentional jump starts on Friday, which saw them drop from second to eighth overnight and lost them a second place finish on Saturday. Seven top three finishes in the final day’s eight stages saw them close to within six seconds of their team-mates at the finish at Zonderwater Correctional Services in Cullinan.

Toyota Motorsport South Africa’s third Yaris, the Imperial-backed car of Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich, completed the event’s 14 special stages in seventh place after starting the final day in ninth place. They missed out on sixth place by under three seconds.

Toyota won the manufacturers’ award for the event and have extended their lead over Volkswagen and Ford in the manufacturers’ championship.

“While we’re competing to win whenever we line up for a race, we are happy with the progress we have achieved with the all-new Yaris,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “All three cars completed a fast and tough rally without any mechanical problems and this reliability together with four successive podiums in five events while we’re still developing this latest Toyota rally car is encouraging.

“We’re now much closer on performance to the championship leaders, but still need to find a little bit more. We have four weeks before the next round, the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in the Western Cape on September 13 and 14, and we’ll be putting this time to good use.”

With three rounds of the championship remaining Gemmell and Swan have 77 points and are 36 points behind defending champions and current championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, who won this weekend’s event. They have closed the gap to second-placed Jan Habig and Robert Paisley, who failed to finish on Saturday, to just six points.

De Villiers and Godrich are fourth with 69 points and Poulter and Coetzee are fifth with 63,5 points.

All three crews have scored a podium finish so far with the team’s best results second places for Poulter/Coetzee and Gemmell/Swan in rounds two and three. 

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