document : Championship balanced on a knife edge


Championship balanced on a knife edge
information supplied by: MSA Rally Commission 02 November 2012

2 November 2012

Championship balanced on a knife edge

The final round of the SA National Rally Championship gets underway from the Garden Route Mall in George at 12 noon today.

After 181 special stages in seven completed rounds in five provinces it all comes down to the last eleven stages of what has been a closely contested championship.

Hot favourites to win the championship Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Sasol Racing Ford Fiesta) who lead nearest challengers Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan (Castrol Toyota Auris) by an effective 10 points won this mornings’ qualifying stage and have chosen to start sixth on the road.

Gemmell/Swan who were third fastest in the qualifying stage have elected to start eight. The reason why they do not start in the order in which they qualified is because they wish to avoid sweeping the route from the front and creating a smoother and faster passage for the cars behind.

A short opening stage which is the reverse of the qualifying stage and four forest stages await, before the events first day ends at the Wilderness Beach Hotel.

Six more stages will be run on Saturday before the rally ends back at the Wilderness in the afternoon.

A battle royal is expected between Cronje and Gemmell who have dominated the season so far winning six of the seven rounds to date.

Cronje/Houghton are unlikely to take any chances and have only to finish in the top five whether Gemmell wins or not. Gemmell/Swan on the other hand must win the rally to have any chance of winning the championship.

Strong challengers for overall honours this weekend can be expected from Jan Habig/Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) and Jon and Doug Williams (Sasol Racing Ford Fiesta) who are third and fourth respectively in the championship but out of contention.

The S1600 for two-wheel drive cars battle is between championship leaders Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota RunX), Ashley Haigh-Smith/ Craig Parry (Castrol/BP Ford Fiesta R2) and Tjaart Conradie/Kes Naidoo (Galvadip Toyota Auris) .

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