Toyota Motorsport will be aiming for a win to end the season on a high note in the SA Rally Championship Garden Route Rally in the Western Cape on November 15 and 16.
While the championship has already been settled in favour of Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, Castrol Team Toyota Yaris crews Johnny Gemmell/Carolyn Swan and Leeroy Poulter/Elvéne Coetzee will be highly motivated to claim what has been an elusive first victory of the season after coming so close in recent rounds.
Both are strong contenders, with Gemmell/Swan runners up to Cronje/Houghton in the last two rounds, missing out on a maiden win for the new Toyota Yaris in the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally in September by less than two seconds. They are currently second in the championship and 22 points ahead of third-placed Jean-Pierre Damseaux/Hilton Auffray (Team Total Toyota Auris) with a maximum of 25 on offer in the final round.
Poulter and Coetzee have shown very good speed on many occasions this season and were unlucky not to win the Toyota Cape Dealer Rally after leading on the last day by 27 seconds with two stages remaining.
“We’ve made a couple of small upgrades to the Yaris for this final rally,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “The Yaris has been on the podium five times already, four times in the runner-up spot, and we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made with the development programme for the new car.
“We know we have a competitive package and with a little bit of luck could have had at least two victories under our belts already. So the aim this weekend is very definitely to win. Both Leeroy and Johnny have won many stages during the season, so we have the potential to win. We just need to do it.”
Successor to the Super 2000 class Toyota Auris, the Yaris made its debut in the season-opening Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal in March. It made an immediate impression, Poulter/Coetzee finishing fourth and Gemmell/Swan claiming its first stage victory. It is the first Yaris to contest a national rally championship anywhere in the world and was designed and built in Toyota Motorsport’s Kyalami workshops.
Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich will give the Imperial Toyota Yaris its final outing of the year. They have enjoyed a good first season together and their consistency has seen them climb to fifth place in the championship after scoring in every round to date. They are 28 points behind team-mates Gemmell and Swan and 8.5 ahead of Poulter/Coetzee.
De Villiers, better known as a cross country car racer (he won the 2009 Dakar Rally in South America and was second this year in a Toyota Imperial Hilux) is in only his second season of rallying with Toyota and has closed the gap to his more experienced rally rivals with every outing this season.
The Garden Route Rally will start at the Garden Route Mall in George at 11:00 on Friday and the opening day will consist of five gravel special stages with the competitors returning to George for the overnight stop. Saturday’s restart will be at 07:00 with the first of the day’s seven stages utilising part of the historic Montagu Pass, the first time this pass has been used in a rally for some 20 years. The first car is due at the finish in George at 15:10.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, 4×4 Mega World, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.
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