Following the team’s impressive performance in the recent Toyota Cape Dealer Rally, Castrol Team Toyota will be pushing hard for a win in this weekend’s Polokwane Rally in Limpopo Province.
Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan came within 1,8 seconds of recording the team’s maiden win with the new-for- 2013 Yaris four-wheel drive rally car in the Western Cape after they and team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee dominated the event with seven out of 10 special stage victories over the two days .
“We made quite a few changes to the cars before the Cape event and both drivers were very pleased with the results,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “At one stage on the second day we were on for a Toyota 1-2 and Leeroy and Elvéne were only prevented from winning by a rare engine problem with two stages remaining.
“We’re very happy with the performance of the Yaris so far and we should do well in Limpopo given a clean run for both cars on both days. Our development programme since the car first made its appearance in the opening round in March is bearing fruit and we’ll be looking for wins in these last two rounds of the championship.”
Gemmell and Swan are currently second in the championship, 40 points behind leaders and defending champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton with a maximum of 100 points on offer in the last two rounds.
“We still have a fairly long odds chance of winning the championship and we’ll be pushing hard – as always – for wins,” said Gemmell, who is seeking his first championship after finishing runner-up four times, including last year. “The car was very strong in the last rally and we’re confident we have what it takes to win.”
Poulter is equally confident and fired up after coming so close to winning the last round – he and Coetzee were in the top three on eight of the nine stages they completed, winning three and leading eventual winners Cronje and Houghton by nearly half a minute with two stages remaining.
“We had by far our best outing of the year in the last round. The Yaris was right on the pace and we showed we were faster than the rest in both the wet and the dry,” said Poulter.
Poulter and Coetzee are no longer a factor in the championship after being forced to complete three events under reduced points Super Rally rules as a result of problems that saw them drop out on the first day. However, they have every intention of taking away as many points as possible from Cronje and Houghton and helping their team-mates win the championship.
The Polokwane Rally will start at 12 noon on Friday from the Municipal Council Chambers in the city centre and the opening day will consist of five gravel stages and a tarmac stage to end the day at the Peter Mokaba Stadium at around 17:00.
The rally will restart on Saturday at 06:30 with the first of four gravel stages some 40 kilometres north of the city. The final stage will be a repeat of Friday’s short tarmac test at Peter Mokaba stadium.
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