The Lake Umuzi Rally was full of drama and excitement this past weekend. Guy Botterill and navigator, Simon Vacy-Lyle, entered the race as favourites to win the rally. AC Potgieter and navigator, Nico Swartz, were hot on their heels in the race for the championship.
The first stage was won by Team AC with Team Guy only 1 second slower. Team Van Wyk was not far behind, trailing Team Guy by 15 seconds. Overall winners, Eland and Coetzee, finished 6th with his Subaru Impreza.
Stage 2 was won by Team Eland.
They really turned on the heat and were challenging the R2N class drivers in their 1600’s on every stage.
Team AC managed to increase their lead by 9 seconds over rival Guy with his cousin JJ Potgieter moving to fourth place in the R2N class.
Team Eland started to turn on the heat and managed to close the gap between them and race leader Team AC. Chris Coertse with navigator, Greg Godrich (from Secunda), slipped back in the ranks as well as the Daughter and Father team (Team Lunetic), Lune Snyman and her Father Edward Strydom. Natie Booysen in his yellow branded car had a 3-minute penalty.
Richard Leeke and navigator, Henry Köhne, had to retire when their car’s engine overheated. Team Van der Merwe also had to retire.
Team Strydom lost a wheel and had to be transported back to Park Feme for repairs. They were ready the next day.
The night stage was cancelled after heavy rains.
The turf in the area makes it impossible to drive after heavy rains. It was also deemed unsafe.
Saturday morning saw the sun shining with no clouds and a cold wind blowing. The stages dried up quickly and the day was set for a competitive day of racing.
The first race of the day saw Team Eland winning the stage again with Team Botterill taking second and Team Potgieter (VW Polo) finishing third.
The overall leaderboard reshuffled with AC Potgieter in first (R2N class), Eland (Open) in second with a meagre 4,4 sec behind. AC was followed by Guy (R2N) a further 5 sec behind.
The top three in the overall race was within 10 seconds of each other. The national championship is now balancing on 10 seconds.
Eland increased his lead over the next few stages with his Subaru but the real race was between Championship contenders Botterill/Vacy-Lyle and Potgieter/Swartz.
The stage at TW Stene (Billy) saw Botterill/Vacy-Lyle claw themselves back into the lead in the R2N class with a 2,2 second lead over Potgieter/Swartz.
The unthinkable happened in stage 10 on Tjorrie Kruger’s farm. Botterill/Vacy-Lyle clipped a bank and rolled their Toyota Etios.
This was the end for them as they had to retire. Fortunately, they were unhurt thanks to all the safety features of the car. The super stages at Janneman van der Merwe’s farms proved to be a spectator’s delight with two teams driving against each other as well as the clock.
Team Boertjie (Potgieter/du Toit) took first in both stages after consistently good driving during the race. They moved into 4th overall behind Eland, Potgieter and van Wyk.
All that AC Potgieter had to do in the final stage was to finish with a good time. He did and clinched the much- needed class win.
Overall standings were Eland/Coetzee in first, Potgieter/Swartz second and Vacy-Lyle/Köhler finished third overall.
In the national championship (R2N class) on the leaderboard were Potgieter/Swartz first, Vacy-Lyle/Köhler second and the surprise in third place was Potgieter/du Toit. The stage is now set for an absolute thriller at the Ermelo rally with the leaderboard tied. Whoever wins between Potgieter/Swartz and Botterill/Vacy-Lyle at the Ermelo rally will take the championship.
Natie Booysen took first place in the Classic Cars class. Local drivers/navigators also did well in the rally. Navigator, Godrich and driver, Chris Coertse, ended 5th overall and Simms/Thomson and Lune Snyman/Strydom ended 12th and 13th respectively.
Save the date: 26 and 27 October
Ermelo rally promises to be a tight race.