Round five of the 2016 South African National Rally Championship took place in Heidelberg and saw Leeroy Poulter and navigator Elvéne Coetzee take their fifth consecutive overall victory.
“We had some mid-stage incidents with spectators and wildlife,” said Poulter after finishing the event at the Heidelberg Mall. “But we were quick enough on the clean stages to ensure a fist place finish.”
Teammates Giniel de Villiers and navigator Carolyn Swan started with a bang, winning Stage 5 of the event, though they were hamstrung by thick dust on the closing Stage 6, the final stage of Day One. As a result they ended the opening day twenty seconds behind Poulter/Coetzee, with Ernie van der Walt and navigator Gerhard Snyman (Vecto Petroleum Toyota Yaris S2000) slotting into second place.
Day Two brought new hope for De Villiers/Swan, but disaster struck on the opening stage of the day. The pair suffered a double puncture mid-stage, and while they managed to exit the stage, they were forced to retire the Toyota Yaris S2000.
“As is usual, Giniel and Carolyn had only on spare wheel on board, and when they suffered two punctures on Stage 7, we had to call it a day,” explains Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “While they could theoretically have continued, it would have been a contravention of the rules to travel on the open section with a deflated tyre.”
With De Villiers/Swan out, the podium positions went to Poulter/Coetzee in first place, Van der Walt/Snyman in second, and Theuns Joubert, partnered with Mari van der Walt (Salom Racing Toyota Auris NRC4) completing the podium.
Next up on the 2016 rally calendar is the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally – traditionally a truly spectacular event – based in the Swartland around the Western Cape town of Malmesbury. This event will be round 6 of the 7-round championship, and is scheduled for the weekend of 16-17 September.