It is a big double-header in the chase for championship honours this weekend for Toyota Gazoo Racing with Simon Vacy-Lyle within ‘spitting’ distance of capturing the SA National Rally Navigator’s honours and Michael van Rooyen just 11 points adrift in the Global Touring Car Series (GTC).
GTC heads to the penultimate round of the year, at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town this weekend and a good result could see the Rustenburg Rocket challenge for the title.
“We had a really good outing in East London last month,” says Van Rooyen. “Two second places saw us close in on the championship leaders and we now have a real shot at the title. With that said, we need to score maximum points this weekend in Cape Town.”
As things stand, Volkswagen’s Keagan Masters took the lead in the title chase after the previous round, and now leads Audi’s Simon Moss by six points. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Van Rooyen finds himself just five points further adrift, and has a six point buffer over Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe.
“It is really tight at the top of the table, going into these final two rounds,” continues Van Rooyen. “And there are only four more chances to score points this season, so we cannot afford any slip-ups.”
As such the team has made sure that the Toyota Corolla is in the best shape possible, leading up to this weekend.
“We will definitely be in much better shape this time round than we were at the first outing in Cape Town this year,” concludes Van Rooyen. “And with a bit of luck we’ll be in the fight come the final round at Red Star Raceway at the end of October.”
Guy Botterill may have been crowned as the 2019 South African National Rally Champion for the third year running at the previous round – but his navigator, Simon Vacy-Lyle hasn’t quite crossed the line yet. This is a matter that the pair will aim to rectify at the upcoming penultimate round of the season, the 2019 TracN4 National Rally in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.
“Simon missed one round, due to the birth of his daughter,” explains Botterill. “So, he is just a few points short of winning the navigators’ title for 2019 – third place or better will be enough to seal the deal.”
With this in mind, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Etios crew will be attacking the penultimate round of the year with the same vigour as every other rally.
“The car had no damage after the previous round, but even so we have made sure it was thoroughly prepped for the upcoming rally. We have also done a little bit of testing so we’re confident that we’re in good shape for the weekend,” continues Botterill.
The pair has raced in the area around Bronkhorstspruit before, and are familiar with the mielie field layouts that are typical of the terrain. Even so, Botterill is realistic about the upcoming event:
“We would obviously like to wrap up the title for Simon, but at the same time, we do not need to take undue risks at this point. We will just go at our normal pace, and see how the rally develops.”
The 2019 TracN4 National Rally will get under way at 14:00 on Friday, 27 September, with the action starting from the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum, on the outskirts of Pretoria. Saturday will see more gravel stages, with the rally scheduled to finish at around 15:00.