Andre De Kock
Motorsport Editor
2 minute read
20 Apr 2015
9:00 am

Ford team wins tough, wet Sasol Rally

Andre De Kock

It was wet, rough, demanding, and took a high toll among competitors.

SLIPPERY. Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton slither their Ford Performance Fiesta through the mud en route to overall victory in the weekend's Sasol Rally. Picture: Dave Ledbitter.

The podium saw representatives from three separate manufacturers, and thousands of spectators loved every moment.

That is how enthusiasts will remember the weekend’s 24th Sasol Rally through Mpumalanga. The event, round two of this year’s title chase, was won overall by Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in their Ford Performance Fiesta S2000.

They finished three and a half minutes ahead of Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Yaris S2000), with Gugu Zulu/ Pierre Arries (Sasol Volkswagen Polo S2000) on the final podium step, another three minutes behind.

Namibians Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo (North City Panel Beaters Toyota Auris) finished fourth overall, winning the NRC4 class in the process.

Thilo Himmel/Armand du Toit (Genuine Parts VW Polo) came in fifth, with Giniel de Villiers/ Carolyn Swan finishing sixth in their Castrol Toyota Yaris.

CHARGING. Chad van Beurden/ Nico Swartz (Jemsport VW Polo) won the S1600 class, finishing eighth overall. Picture: Dave Ledbitter.

CHARGING. Chad van Beurden/ Nico Swartz (Jemsport VW Polo) won the S1600 class, finishing eighth overall. Picture: Dave Ledbitter.

Cronje and Houghton took an immediate lead when the rally started on Friday morning, chased by Poulter/Coetzee, Henk Lategan/ Barry White (Sasol VW Polo), De Villiers/Swan and Japie van Niekerk/ Gordon Noble (NAD Ford Fiesta).

Saturday’s Spaghetti Junction Super Special stage in Nelspruit changed the leader board considerably, when Henk Lategan spun his Volkswagen , to be solidly collected at high speed by Van Niekerk’s Ford.

Both cars went to that final pit stop in the sky, but the crews were unharmed, with the stage cancelled so the rescue teams could remove the rubble.

The Cronje/Houghton Ford proceeded to win the next four special stages, to reach the finish with a commanding lead.

Behind them, the Toyota of Poulter/Coetzee broke a diff and tackled the last two stages with front-wheel drive only, while the De Villiers/ Swan car blew an angine just before the final stage.

  • The African Rally Championship category went to the Kenyan pair of Jaspreet Chatthe and Craig Thorley (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo RC2), beating Zambians Jassy Singh and Sajid Khan (Subaru Impreza), by just under three minutes and finishing seventh overall.
  • Youngsters Chad van Beurden /Nico Swartz (Beurden Transport VW Polo) acquitted themselves well in the S1600 class by finishing the rally first in class and eighth overall, beating current log leaders Paulus Franken/ Henry Kohne (Manitou Group VW Polo R2) and Matthew Vacey-Lyle/ Schalk van Heerden (Fragran Toyota Etios).

Only 13 of the original starters made it to the finish line.

The Northern Regions event, that formed part of the last day of the Sasol Rally, was won by Joos Stassen/Etienne Lourens in their Class S5 Subaru Impreza, followed by AC Potgieter/Tommy du Toit (Class S3 VW Polo) and Richard Leeke /Rikus Fourie (Class S3 Ford Fiesta).

The next round of the 2015 South African Rally championship will take place around Secunda on May 15 and 16.