The battle for supremacy in the South African National Rally Championship culminated with the running of the Ermelo Rally, Round 7 of the championship, where Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle were locked in a tussle with Volkswagen’s AC Potgieter and navigator Nico Swartz.
The two crews started the event on the same points, and from there it was easy to see what was needed for Botterill to take his fifth title in a row: Finish ahead of Potgieter. But the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crew had had a tough run up to the final round, after failing to finish the opening rally; and rolling out on the penultimate round.
“It has been a tougher-than-expected season for us,”
said an elated Botterill after clinching the title in Ermelo.
“Two DNFs certainly didn’t help our cause, and it was disappointing to have put so much pressure on ourselves for the final round.”
But Potgieter’s challenge faded early on, after he was forced to clock in late to Stage 2 due to brake problems on the opening stage, which required urgent attention. This gave the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Etios crew a handy margin, which they maintained through the remainder of the 15-stage rally.
“There was no need for us to try and win the event – we were there to win the championship,”
“Even so, we managed to continue at a good pace, especially considering the rough road conditions.”
Botterill/Vacy-Lyle opened the road on both days, which made it tricky to stay ahead of the chasing pack without taking chances. Even so, Richard Leeke and Elvene Vonk (Ford Fiesta) only caught up with the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crew three stages from the finish, and eventually won the event by 0.07 over Botterill/Vacy-Lyle.
“In the end we just lost out to Richard and Elvene, but we did more than enough to win the title, which is what we set out to do,”
“I must thank Toyota SA Motors for their continued support, and also our technical crew who looked after the Toyota Etios throughout the season. They’re always on the ball, but they took extra care for the final round.”
With this title added to their tally, Botterill/Vacy-Lyle have now won two overall South Africa National Rally titles on the trot. However, they’ve won a total of five consecutive front-wheel-drive titles in a row, making them one of the most successful front-wheel-drive crews in the history of South African rallying.
“The Toyota Etios has proven to be a highly reliable machine, and we’ve been extremely happy with its performance over the last few seasons,”
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
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