Podium celebrations for Team TOTAL in Gauteng
information supplied by: Total South Africa
01 June 2013
PODIUM CELEBRATIONS FOR TEAM TOTAL IN GAUTENG
Rallying is a sport like no other. Man and machine must work in perfect harmony in order to achieve success. Yet, rally drivers must push their machines beyond their limits over the most challenging gravel rally roads in South Africa. An unbridled determination, perseverance, skill, tenacity and oftentimes patience are all qualities needed, and this weekend’s Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally saw just such a performance from Team TOTAL.
Gauteng's Bapsfontein region played host to the third round of the 2013 South African National Rally Championship, with action held on Friday 31 May and Saturday 1 June. A total of 37 crews took to the start of the event on Friday morning at Toyota’s new Parts Distribution Warehouse in Boksburg, followed by ten stages and 181km of high-speed rallying zigzagging between the mielie fields. The event concluded at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy on Saturday afternoon with a prize-giving ceremony at 16h30.
Day One was a display of committed rally driving, but the five stages and 90.87km of timed action forced the retirement of 10 crews with mechanical maladies. Six of these ten restarted under SupeRally regulations on Day Two, including notable entrants such as Hergen Fekken (Volkswagen Polo S2000), Morne Janse van Rensburg (Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000 Challenge), Leeroy Poulter (Toyota Yaris S2000) and Megan Verlaque (Volkswagen Polo Vivo S1600).
At the head of the leader board was Jan Habig/Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta S2000) with a margin of 28.7sec over 2009 Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers/Greg Godrich (Toyota Yaris S2000) and 18-year-old Henk Lategan with co-driver Barry White (Volkswagen Polo S2000) second and third respectively. Setting the pace in Class S2000 Challenge was Team TOTAL’s Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen (Toyota Auris S2000). Thilo Himmel/Armand du Toit led the way in the Class S1600 Drive category in their Toyota Etios S1600 rally machine.
Repeating Day One’s five stages on Day Two on Saturday 1 June, stage records tumbled as the drivers pushed their cars with confidence through the tricky and twisty stages. Habig maintained his overnight lead to claim his first victory of 2013, with Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan (Toyota Yaris S2000) 45.4sec behind in second place overall and Enzo Kuun/Douglas Judd (Volkswagen Polo S2000) claiming the final podium position. The Class S2000 Challenge victory went to the determined Team TOTAL crew of Mohammed Moosa and Andre Vermeulen. Himmel maintained his overnight lead to record victory in the Class S1600 category.
Team TOTAL is the largest privateer rally squad contesting the 2013 South African Rally Championship, and its three-car entry into this competitive series comprises of Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray (car number #5), Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen (car number #15) and Craig Trott/Janine Lourens (car number #61). Damseaux and Moosa compete in identical Toyota Auris S2000 machines in the ultra-competitive Class S2000 Challenge, while Trott flies the TOTAL South Africa flag in Class S1600 and the Two Wheel Drive Championship.
Entering this event, Damseaux was fourth overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings and leading the Class S2000 Challenge points board, but this competitor was struck with a cruel blow on the very first stage of the rally on Friday morning. His car’s gearbox failed in stage one, and he was forced to limp to the end of the stage where he retired from the rally. Not wanting to cause further damage to the gearbox and engine, Damseaux wisely decided it best to put his rally car on its trailer instead of re-entering it under SupeRally regulations on Day Two and risk even more.
“We will fight another day, to rather go on full attack on our next event,” said a dejected Damseaux. “The risk outweighs the reward, and there are still five more events remaining on the calendar to score those valuable championship points for our cause.”
Class S1600 veteran and eight-times South African Drivers’ Class Champion Craig Trott showed his wealth of experience on these challenging stages to drive to an impressive fifth position on Day One’s stages against his rivals in their more modern and more powerful rally machinery. Having paid his ‘school fees’ on the rally scene, Trott is a cunning competitor: through tactics and perseverance, he worked his way up the Class S1600 leader board to finish in third position.
“We are very happy with this result,” said Trott. “It was not an easy result to come by, but we put pressure on our rivals and picked them off one-by-one. This event was a tough one, and all who finished can be proud of themselves.”
Lying in sixth position on the event’s overall leader board at the end of Day One, after a dramatic tussle for position with the factory-backed rally teams, Moosa was the figurative dark horse at the beginning of Day Two.
With drama unfolding all around him on the stages, Moosa kept his head down to put on a daring display of speed in the Class S2000 Challenge Toyota Auris S2000 for Team TOTAL, and he enjoyed a comfortable lead over his rivals on Day Two. After a faultless drive through the day’s five stages, a final stage mishap saw him roll his rally car to drastically reduce his lead. However, his cushion over his immediate rivals was enough to see him secure the Class S2000 Challenge victory on this trying Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally and claim an impressive sixth place overall.
“We’re moving forward in our performance this season, and we’re taking the fight to our rivals in 2013,” commented Moosa. “It is our first win in the Class S2000 Challenge category, and we will be working hard to add more such results to our season.”
Team TOTAL has chosen the Leopard Conservation Project as their social responsibility and has joined forces to raise awareness of the plight of these elusive predators. In the Service Park on Day One, Fred Berrange and Chris Pearce supported Craig Trott by helping his service team in making sure the Team TOTAL Toyota RunX S1600 left the Service Park prepped and primed for fiercer rally action. On Day Two, the Leopard Conservation Project cheered for Team TOTAL’s crews and provided added inspiration to motivate the team’s crews to fight for their cause on the stages too.
The Leopard Conservation Project was created 14 years ago to capture, rehabilitate and release rescued leopards from poaching, poisoning, trapping and over-hunting in southern Africa, and the Project has expanded its role from primarily rescuing these big cats to researching their behaviour and protecting their future population growth through science.
Team TOTAL is the only rally team to actively support an initiative of this kind in South Africa. For more information on the Leopard Conservation Project, please visit their website at http://www.leopardcon.co.za
For more information on Team TOTAL, please visit http://www.total.co.za
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. For registered media, photographs may be downloaded from http://www.motorpics.co.za
Note to editors: Please do not refer to TOTAL South Africa as Total SA, as this refers to the Total Group with its head office in Paris, France. TOTAL South Africa refers to the company in South Africa and its operations in South Africa.
Podium celebrations for Team TOTAL in Gauteng.doc (44kB)
2013 TGDR 1 June - FINAL - 16H15.pdf (453kB)
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