The iconic Longmore forest in the Eastern Cape will be the main battleground for this weekend’s Baywest Rally, the fourth round of the 2019 South African National Rally Championship.
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle are ready for the action and hoping the event offers an opportunity for Botterill to cement his position at the top of the championship standings.
Botterill has won every round of the championship to date and, while it is too early to make any predictions on the outcome of the season, a win in Port Elizabeth will go a long way to securing another national championship for the Durbanite.
Navigator Vacy-Lyle missed out on Round 3 of the championship last month, due to the birth of his daughter Hannah. However, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA stalwart will be back in action this weekend, hoping to add more points to his own tally in the championship.
The upcoming event will again take place on some of the most spectacular rally roads that South Africa has to offer. There will be a ceremonial start at the Baywest Mall at 13:30 on Friday, July 19, followed by five timed stages. Six more stages will take place on the Saturday, including some legendary stages such as Cultutama and Sinkdam in the fearsome Longmore Forest.
“We know we have to treat these roads with respect,” says Botterill of the Baywest National Rally. “They are spectacular but challenging, and a slip-up could be disastrous. Add to that the unpredictable weather, and we clearly have to be pragmatic about our approach.”
With that said, the team have done everything in their power to ensure that their Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Class R2N Etios is in perfect shape for the rally. Pre-race testing has been completed, and the crew will be making their way to the Friendly City later this week.
“I am really excited about the weekend,” concluded Botterill. “There is a lot going on at this event, including some exciting news that could bolster the sport. But for me, my focus has to be on the championship, and bagging maximum points in Port Elizabeth it my first priority.”
JIAYUGUAN, CHINA – Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel brought their South African-built Toyota Hilux home in first place on Stage 10 of the 2019 Silk Way Rally. This gave them a clean sweep of victories in all 10 stages and secured an historic victory for the Team Hilux crew.
Stage 10 was no pushover, with a timed section of 255 km and liaisons of 301k m, the stage comprised sand, gravel tracks and rocky river crossings. And as ever, the Toyota Hilux of Al Attiyah/Baumel was first into the fray.
The pair had a clean run, and posted a time of 2hrs 27min 30sec over the distance, beating the fellow-Toyota Hilux driver, Erik van Loon, by 2min 25sec on the day. In the final standings, however, Al Attiyah/Baumel secured victory by more than an hour, stamping their authority on what is widely regarded as the second-toughest cross-country rally in the world, after the might Dakar Rally, which the pair also won earlier this year.
As a matter of fact, their victory in the Silk Way Rally brings the Toyota Hilux crew’s tally to four victories to date in 2019 – all behind the wheel of the same car, built at Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s HQ in Barbeque Downs, near the Kyalami Race Circuit in South Africa.
First came the Dakar Rally, which the pair followed up with victory in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, before adding the silverware from Rally Kazakhstan to their collection – and now they’ve added the spoils from the Silk Way Rally.
“We are extremely proud of Nasser and Mathieu,” said an elated Glyn Hall, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA, after the race. “But we are equally proud of the car that we built for them. The Toyota Hilux has proved yet again just how tough it is, and the fact that they could win every stage of the rally shows that the car is not only tough, but very fast over rough terrain too.”
The 2019 Silk Way Rally stared in Russia, on July 6, with cars, trucks and motorcycles setting off on a 10-stage journey that took them from Russia, through Mongolia and into China.