Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton took their Dealer Ford Fiesta S2000 to victory in the Polokwane Rally and in the process won back to back overall South African titles. The Ford pair finished ahead of Johnny Gemmel/Carolyn Swan (Castrol Toyota Yaris S2000) and Hergen Fekken/ Pierre Arries (Sasolracing VW Polo S2000).
Fourth, and winners of the S2000 Challenge category, were Cape crew Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Hilton Auffray in their Team Total Toyota Auris. The result was enough to clinch this season’s S2000 Challenge title for the Team Total crew.
They led home Enzo Kuun/Douglas Judd (Sasolracing VW Polo), Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naido (PZN McCarthy Toyota Auris) and Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman in the New Africa Developments Ford Fiesta.
Cronje and Houghton finished day one of the rally narrowly ahead of Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee (Castrol Toyota Yaris), with the scene set for a huge dice between the two teams on the second day. Sadly, Poulter’s Toyota lost its power steering early on Saturday and dropped down the field leaving Cronje and Houghton to cruise uneventfully towards their sixth victory of the year and the overall championship.
They opened a 90-second gap between themselves and the second placed Toyota of Gemmel and Swan with the Fekken and Arries factory VW just 6,7 seconds further adrift.
The Damseaux/Auffray Toyota led the S2000 Challenge class throughout, despite a tough challenge from youngster Dippenaar and Naido in their similar, privateer Toyota.
The S1600 class for front-wheel drive vehicles saw a rally-long fight between Thilo Himmel/Armand du Toit (Toyota Etios) and Clint Weston/Christof Snyders in the Reef Tankers Citroen C2.
Eventually Himmel took therhonours when the Citroen lost its power steering near the end – only for both crews to be excluded from the results for technical infringements.
The S1600 victory then went to Marko Himmel and Francois Schoombee (Toyota Corolla RXi), ahead of Richard Leeke/Francois Jordaan (Ford Fiesta S2), Craig Trott/Janine Lourens (Team Total Toyota RunX) and Lourens van Rensburg/Jason Plumby (Ford Fiesta S2).
Early front runners who struck problems included Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (Sasolracing VW Polo) who broke a sub frame, and Henk Lategan/Barry White (Sasolracing VW Polo) who were forced out by a broken steering box.
Also in the wars were Class S1600 contenders Ashley Haig-Smith and Miles Skinner (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2) who called it a day when an engine sensor went into limp mode.