document : Cronje/Houghton lead Garden Route Rally on puncture-dominated first day

Cronje/Houghton lead Garden Route Rally on puncture-dominated first day
information supplied by: MSA Rally Commission 02 November 2012


Wilderness, Western Cape, Friday - Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Sasolracing Ford Fiesta) took a big step closer to winning the 2012 South African Rally Championship here this afternoon when they emerged the victors after the first day of the Garden Route Rally.

The championship leaders, who started the final round of the season an effective 10 points clear of their nearest rivals, Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Auris), completed the day’s five special stages in the George and Wilderness areas in a time of 1 hr 6 min 20 sec. Second, 1 min 4 sec in arrears were former champions Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson (BP VW Polo), just 1,8 seconds ahead of the father and son combination of Jon and Doug Williams in a second Sasol Ford.

In a day that saw eight of the top 12 competitors slowed by a total of 11 punctures between them on the stony Karatara forest roads, the top three significantly managed to avoid this hazard.

The Dutch/Belgian combination of Hans Weijs and Bjorn Degandt (BP VW Polo), in their final appearance in South Africa after guesting with the factory VW team this season, were on top form, winning three of the five stages but finished fifth after a puncture on stage three.

Toyota’s Gemmell and Swan led after stage two from team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee and Cronje/Houghton before both Toyota crews had to stop to replace flat wheels, Poulter on stage three (where he had two punctures and completed the stage on a flat wheel) and Gemmell on stage four.

This dropped Gemmell and Swan to ninth place at the overnight stop at Wilderness Beach Hotel, 3 min 6 sec behind the leaders, while Poulter and Coetzee were 14thand 9 min 42 sec in arrears.

Former champions Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries did well to finish fourth, just under two minutes in arrears, after punctures on stages two and five.

Completing the top 10 were Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman (New Africa Developments VW Polo) in sixth place, inaugural S2000 Challenge winners Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin (BP VW Polo) in seventh, former champions Jan Habig/Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) in eighth despite two punctures on stage five, and Namibians Wilro Dippenaar/Morne du Toit (McCarthy Toyota/PZN Panelbeaters Toyota RunX) in 10th place and second among the S2000 Challenge cars.

Leading the Two Wheel Drive category for S1600 cars at the overnight stop are Ashley Haigh Smith and Craig Parry (Castrol/BP Ford Fiesta R2), who finished 3 min 53 sec ahead of Clint Weston/Pierre Jordaan (Reef Tankers Citroen D2 R2). Third were championship leaders Craig Trott/Robbie Coetzee (Team Total Toyota Auris), 29 seconds behind the Citroen.

Tomorrow’s action starts at 07:30 from Wilderness Beach Hotel and competitors face three forest stages in the Knysna mountains, which are repeated before the finish back in Wilderness in the afternoon.

Cronje/Houghton lead Garden Route Rally on puncture-dominated first day.pdf (112kB)


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Tags | Motorsport | MSA Rally Commission | 2012 Garden Route Rally |