Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle, pre-event favourites to win the 2017 Volkswagen Rally, were forced to retire their usually reliable Toyota Etios S1600 during the penultimate stage of the event – costing them a certain win, as well as the lead in the 2017 National Rally Championship. Before technical difficulties brought an end to their charge, the pair had notched up winning times in each stage of the rally, and set a new record for front-wheel-drive rally cars through the Culturama stage in the Longmore Forest.
“We got off to a flying start,” said a disappointed Botterill after the rally. “Everything looked and felt great, and we were clearly on course to win the event. But then we had a problem with the engine, and had no choice but to stop. And that with just one full stage to go.”
The Volkswagen Rally has long been considered one of the jewels on the calendar, and also traditionally marks the mid-point of the rally season. Botterill/Vacy-Lyle had done a lot of work on their Toyota Etios S1600 prior to this event, in preparation for the second half of the year. They were upbeat about their chances before the event, but this result places them under pressure for the rest of the season.
“We’ve lost the lead in the championship now,” continued Botterill, “so we have simply have to fight back on the remaining three rounds.”
The 2017 Volkswagen Rally was won by Richard Leeke and navigator Henry Kohne (Ford Fiesta), with AC Potgieter and Nico Swartz (Volkswagen Polo) finishing in second place. Third went to Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich (Mazda 2).
The next event is the Electrothread Rally, which takes place on 18-19 August in the area around Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.
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