It was back to winning ways for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle, on the HMC Electrothread Rally, which took place in Bronkhorstspruit on 18 and 19 August, 2017.
The pair found themselves on the back foot going into the event, having lost the lead in the championship. But a fine performance on Round 5 of the 7-round championship sees them back at the top of the standings.
Botterill/Vacy-Lyle started their assault on the HMC Electrothread Rally somewhat cautiously, setting the third-fastest time on the opening stage, albeit only 1.1 seconds slower than stage winners Richard Leeke and Henry Kohne (Ford Fiesta R2). But the pair quickly hit their stride, taking more than ten seconds out of Leeke/Kohne on the second stage, and marching straight into the lead of the rally.
“It was a lead that we didn’t relinquish throughout the weekend,” said an ecstatic Botterill after winning the two-day event. “We had to open the road on Day 2, but even so we managed to win five of the day’s eight stages. There was a minor scare when we broke a shock on the penultimate stage of the rally, but we managed to hold on for a win.”
Botterill/Vacy-Lyle found themselves in an unexpected battle early on, as former multiple national rally champion, Hergen Fekken, joined the fray on the HMC Electrothread Rally. Fekken was partnered by former multiple champion navigator Elvéne Coetzee for the event, and drove the ex-Chris Coertse Toyota Etios R2 to a fine second place overall.
Fekken’s appearance on the rally was purely a once-off, but it certainly had an influence on the championship standings. Botterill’s closest championship rival is Leeke, and with the Ford driver missing out on second place to Fekken/Coetzee, Botterill finds himself with a slightly larger-than-hoped-for cushion over his competition.
“It was great to have Hergen in the mix,” explained Botterill. “But in the end, we’re in it to win the championship. As such we always race to win, or score as many points as possible. Hergen made things even more interesting for sure, but we remain firmly focused on the championship.”
Two rounds remain in the 2017 South African National Rally Championship, with Round 6, the Caledon Rally, taking place on 22 and 23 September in the Western Cape.
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