Caledon is in the spotlight this weekend as the opening round of the South African National Rally Championships gets under way on the Cape Overberg Grand Prix Rally.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle are all set for the upcoming event that is well-known for its high speeds and flowing stages and is a staunch test to start the season.
“We are looking forward to the event, as the roads in the Overberg offer some of the best rally stages in the country,” said Botterill of the upcoming rally. “With that said, the season promises to be an interesting one, and we would really like to get it off to a strong start.”
Two new-generation Volkswagen Polos, each equipped with a one-litre turbo-charged engine, will be joining the fray this year. And while they conform to the rules of the NRC, their engines offer significantly more torque than that of the normally aspirated Toyota Etios 1600, campaigned by Toyota Gazoo Racing SA.
“This is obviously a concern for us,” explained Botterill, “but we are confident that our highly reliable, proven Etios is up to the task.”
Even so, the team has fitted a new engine and transmission to the Toyota, in order to give the crew the best possible machine with which to take on the new challengers.
The Cape Overberg Grand Prix Rally marks a return to the Western Cape for the NRC, which has not had an event in the province since 2017. This is Round 1 of the eight-round South African National Rally Championship, which Botterill and Vacy-Lyle have won twice on the trot, with multiple Class S1600 championships prior to that.
The town of Caledon will play host to the rally, with the ceremonial start taking place at Rola Ford at 14:10 on March 30, before the crews take on six timed stages – four on gravel and two on mixed surfaces. Day two of the rally comprises eight stages, all run on the fast, flowing gravel roads for which the event is famous.