Team TOTAL strong in the Volkswagen Rally's opening day
information supplied by: Total South Africa
20 July 2013
Team TOTAL strong in the Volkswagen Rally’s opening day
There are good days in the office, and there are bad days. This rationale may be applied to all facets of life and sport. After the opening day of the fourth round of the South African National Rally Championship’s Volkswagen Rally, not all teams can lay claim to enjoying a good day in the office.
High speeds over numerous blind crests and menacing drop-offs kept the country’s bravest and most talented rally crews on their toes in Port Elizabeth’s scenic Longmore Forest. The mountains echoed with the screaming exhaust notes of the fierce rally cars being pushed to their limits in anger by their fearless drivers searching to gain every advantage over their rivals and the stopwatch.
With seven of the event’s 13 stages completed by Day One’s overnight halt, a little over 84km of timed action over tar and gravel speed tests sees Championship leaders Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta S2000) lead rivals Jan Habig/Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta S2000) and Leeroy Poulter/Elvene Coetzee (Toyota Yaris S2000) by 21.0 and 53.1 seconds respectively. The leader board is far from set, with another six stages to be run on Day Two including five fast gravel tests in Longmore Forest.
In the S2000 Challenge Class it is a one-two for Team TOTAL’s Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray and team-mates Mohammed Moosa/Andre Vermeulen in their identical Toyota Auris S2000 rally machines. Day Two will see a friendly rivalry push these two rally crews to even faster stage times and closer to their factory-backed competitors.
Action restarts on Saturday 20 July in Jeffrey’s Bay with the first stage getting underway at 09h01, and then heads to Longmore Forest for another four stages before its conclusion with the fan favourite King’s Beach parking lot Super Special stage at 14h23 with the prize-giving ceremony afterwards.
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 S2000 Challenge Class, while Trott flies the TOTAL South Africa flag in Class S1600 and the Two Wheel Drive Championship.
It was, for Team TOTAL, a good day in the majestic mountains of Longmore Forest.
“We kept our noses clean and we pushed where we could,” Damseaux summed up his opening day on the Volkswagen Rally. “The roads are incredibly fast, and it demands commitment from crews.”
Damseaux finds he is lying in sixth position overall, right on the heels of his faster and more powerful factory-backed rivals from Toyota and Volkswagen. Consistency is key to success in this sport, and the Somerset West businessman is proving this age-old rallying adage. With zero niggles from his rally machine, and with confidence brimming, the plan for Day Two will be to maintain his position in the S2000 Challenge Class to regain the Class Championship lead. What Damseaux and Auffray also aim for is to dislodge one or two of the factory rally cars from their position on the leader board and score even more Championship points for Team TOTAL.
These plans fall directly into Moosa’s strategy too, as the Tzaneen entrepreneur will be muscling his car through the six stages on Day Two in a furious bid to regain the one-minute he lost due to two punctures in two consecutive stages on Day One. His first aim is to reel in and then overtake his team-mate, and then zero in on a top five overall position and the S2000 Challenge Class victory once more in 2013.
“There are very fast stages in Longmore Forest, and they kept us very busy in the car,” commented Moosa. “The route is fantastic, and frightening in places if you do go wrong. We’ll push on the stages on Day Two!”
Eight-times South African National Rally Championship Class Champion Trott has more than just a handful of tricks up his Team TOTAL driving suit’s sleeves. Fourth in Class S1600 at the end of Day One, Trott is moving steadily up the leader board with each completed stage. The twisting, tight and demanding route suits the Durbanite’s Toyota RunX, and Trott’s wealth of driving experience shines through here with neat and fast racing lines. Day Two, with another 80km of timed action in which to leapfrog his rivals, will see a heated battle in the Two Wheel Drive Championship ratchet up a number of notches of intensity as the rally runs to its completion on Saturday afternoon.
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. 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
. Follow TOTAL South Africa on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TotalSouthAfrica
and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TotalSAfrica
. 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.
Team TOTAL strong in the Volkswagen Rally's opening day.doc (41kB)
Complete Release: Team TOTAL strong in the Volkswagen Rally's opening day.zip (694kB)