Rallying's Round Five awaits Team TOTAL
information supplied by: Total South Africa
12 August 2013
Rallying’s Round Five awaits Team TOTAL
A new challenge awaits South Africa’s rally teams this weekend. After four rounds of the 2013 South African National Rally Championship calendar completed, the remaining four events of the season resume with brand new rallying roads around the quaint diamond mining town of Cullinan, east of Pretoria, Gauteng.
This is the second event in Gauteng in 2013, and rally fans are in for a special treat at the Ford Dealer Rally. The event comprises 180km of high-speed action on the dusty gravel roads weaving around mielie fields. Competitors will tackle a total of 14 stages, six on Friday 16 August and eight on Saturday 17 August. Action starts on Friday at 11h00 at Zonderwater Correctional Facility in Cullinan for five gravel stages and one short tarmac spectator special stage at Mamelodi Plaza, for what will be a thrilling opportunity for fans to get close to their favourite crews. Day Two restarts at 08h00 at Zonderwater once more for eight gravel stages before concluding at 13h30 at Zonderwater.
An exciting battle at the top of the Drivers’ Championship points log sees Mark Cronje and Jan Habig (both piloting Ford Fiesta S2000s) leading the field. It is defending champion Cronje that leads Habig on points after claiming three wins thus far in 2013. Habig has claimed the only other victory of the season, to keep him in the fight for the coveted trophy at the end of the season with just five points separating these two battling drivers. Cronje’s sponsors will be hoping for a victory from their star driver, but the Volkswagen and Toyota factory crews will be out to score their first victories of the season while Habig will be aiming to leapfrog Cronje on the points’ table with an outright win too.
Team TOTAL is the largest privateer rally squad contesting the National 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 battle it out in identical Toyota Auris S2000 machines in the ultra-competitive S2000 Challenge for earlier specification Super 2000 rally cars, while Trott flies the TOTAL South Africa flag in Class S1600 for two-wheel rally cars.
Leading the S2000 Challenge is Damseaux. This Somerset West businessman has claimed the top slot in this hotly contested new championship with two victories so far this season, and starts the event as favourite to make it three wins so far this season. However, he will face stiff competition not only from his daring rivals but from his team-mate. Showing significant potential thus far in 2013, Moosa has claimed the S2000 win once so far in 2013, and will be the strongest competitor to challenge Damseaux. What makes this friendly rivalry that much more thrilling is that both drivers greatly respect each other as drivers and push each other to harass the faster, newer and more powerful factory rivals from Toyota and Volkswagen. What’s more, they are also engaged in an intense battle for points with just 7.5 separating these two drivers after four rallies.
These two Team TOTAL crews will need to keep Wilro Dippenaar/Kes Naidoo (Toyota Auris S2000), Japie van Niekerk/Gerhard Snyman (Ford Fiesta S2000) behind them to edge further into the lead, but Gugu Zulu/Carl Peskin (Volkswagen Polo Vivo S2000) split the two Team TOTAL team-mates on the leader board. This Johannesburg sports personality is the reigning S2000 Challenge Champion, and is fighting for every potential point available to set this weekend’s rally up as one of the most exciting yet.
The third of Team TOTAL’s crews is Trott. The eight-times National Class Champion is feverishly working on closing in on his rivals on the S1600 Drivers’ Championship standings. He is currently in third place, only 5.5 points off the lead and this weekend’s rally could see him move up the leader board. This weekend’s event will see experience play a big part in overall speed: new rally roads offer competitors new challenges and drivers are often overly cautious on untested gravel roads, but Trott relishes in these situations. His Team TOTAL Toyota RunX S1600 is prepped and primed for high speed on the gravel lanes around the mielie fields, and his rivals will no doubt be watching his every move in order to attack this cunning competitor.
For Team TOTAL, this event will see these privateers push their cars and skills to their limits in pursuit of victory. That is the thrill of rallying, and the 2013 South African National Rally Championship provides of the closest rally action in the world today.
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
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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.
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