Punctures hinders Castrol Team Toyota's start to the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally
The Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally, round three of the South African Rally Championship, took a heavy tolI of the leading competitors in the premier four-wheel drive S2000 class today with punctures robbing them of any chance of victory in the two-day 10-special stage event.
Castrol Team Toyota’s Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan and Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee in the #3 and #5 Toyota Auris rally cars were among those affected. Gemmell and Swan, lying second in the championship to Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta) at the start of the event and running second on the road behind the Ford, couldn’t believe their luck when they saw it stranded on the side of the road just 1,5 kilometres into the opening 28-kilometre stage. High speed contact with a donga and resultant destroyed rear suspension spelt the end of the championship leaders’ rally.
The Toyota crew’s good fortune was short-lived, however, as they picked up a puncture which cost them four minutes after they stopped to change the wheel and battled with the car’s jack. They eventually completed the day’s four gravel special stages at RallyStar near Bapsfontein in eighth place, 3 min 57 sec behind overnight leaders Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta). Along the way they set the fastest time on stage two and were second fastest on stages three and five. Stage four was cancelled.
Poulter and Coetzee, running third on the road behind their team-mates, dropped three minutes with a puncture on stage one and then lost another minute on stage two with a defective clutch. The Toyota Motorsport service crew performed something of a small miracle by removing the Auris’s gearbox and replacing the clutch within the 30 minutes allocated for the service stop at RallyStar between stages two and three.
They recovered well to win the final stage, a Super Special over four kilometres at RallyStar, actually recording the same time as team-mates Gemmell and Swan. They finished the day in ninth place, 13,3 seconds behind their team-mates.
Sunday’s restart is at 07.00 at RallyStar and the rally will finish after another four gravel special stages and a final 16-kilometre tarmac special stage at the Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria from around 13.30.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners: Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.
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