SA Rally Championship: Toyota Gazoo Racing's Botterill and Vacy-Lyle dominate Lake Umuzi event

Toyota Gazoo Racing team. Image: Sue Vacy-Lyle
Toyota Gazoo Racing team. Image: Sue Vacy-Lyle

• The first two rounds of the South African National Rally Championship got underway this weekend.

• 22 teams took part in the Lake Umuzi Rally in Secunda, a rally course featuring hairpins, tight turns and narrow gates. 

• Toyota Gazoo Racing's Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle dominated both stages in their new Toyota Etios R4.

With a third of the year almost completed, the 2020 South African Rally Championship got underway in Secunda this past weekend. Twenty-two teams came together to share their passion for dust, speed and fast cars during a double header for the Lake Umuzi Rally.

The rally course featured a combination of fast and flowy stages, hairpins, tight turns and narrow gates that the competitors thoroughly enjoyed. 

Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle dominated the race and were the NRC1 and overall victors in both rounds in their new Toyota Etios R4.

Having moved from a front wheel drive to a new four-wheel drive, the team took a competitive but cautious approach.

"It was nice to get two wins under the belt. We are still learning about the car and left a lot of time on the table," says Botterill.

"We were pushing but also circumspect, making sure we gathered as much information as we could from this event. It takes time to understand your car, and the best thing we could do was gather some mileage."

Theuns Joubert and Carl Peskin were hot on their heels, coming second overall in both rounds in their Toyota Yaris S2000. Then it was Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter who got third place in Round 1 of the NRC1 class.

Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich were formidable contenders who unluckily met a pole in the first round. Working through the night to repair the Hyundai I20 R4, they came back strongly in Round 2 and ended third in both their class and overall.

 Guy Botterill, Simon Vacy-Lyle

Image: Sue Vacy-Lyle

NR2 class

The extremely competitive NR2 class saw JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit take a double victory in their Ford Fiesta R2N, achieving overall placings of third and fifth. Michael McGregor and Robbie Coetzee came second in Round 1, followed by George Smallberger and Anriko Opperman.

Round 2 saw a consistent Smallberger take second place, followed by A.C. Potgieter and Nico Swartz in third. 

A real highlight of the event was the battle of the Polo Vivo GT Class, which welcomed fresh, young talent to rallying.

In Round 1, Benjamin Habig and Barry White romped to a solid win and an impressive fifth place overall.

The second round belonged to Jayden Els and Matt Kohler, who also finished seventh overall.

A classic Ford Escort, driven by Natie Booysen in the national class, brought some nostalgia so appropriate to this event which is now in its 60th year.

Meanwhile, a variety of regional competitors also came out to play, delivering some spectacular performances and new teams. The NR1 class had a super turnout with four contenders. 

Upcoming events

Round 3: TBA October

Round 4 and 5: TracN4 Rally Dullstroom, 27 – 28 November

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