Severe weather and tough and very wet driving conditions resulted in a shortened VW rally with only 10 stages of 12 completed due to the course being flooded.
The rally started in Uitenhage but covered Port Elizabeth and surrounds as far as Buffelshoek near Jeffreys Bay.
There were also stages hosted at the Aldo Scribante Raceway in PE and the PE oval race track.
The 2015 edition proved to be a true test of endurance for both vehicles and drivers with only 15 finishes out of 50 odd vehicles that pulled out of the starting gate on Friday.
Gugu Zulu finished in overall 7th place on home turf with a hair-raising accident that almost saw them out of the race on day one. After a good start on stage one, he crashed on stage two and was fortunate to finish it at all.
The Volkswagen/ Sasol racing service crew must be give its dues.
Watching them in action, repairing Zulu’s VW Polo after stage two where they repaired some significant damage in time for the next stage, was impressive.
Team Volkswagen/Sasol Racing were deservedly awarded the manufacturers award.
The VW brand did, however, maintain momentum in the S1600 class with Paul Franken and Henry Kohne (VW Polo) once again finishing in style upfront in their class after disappointing finishes in the previous two events.
This win in the S1600 class sets the stage for a fiercely contested class with only three events remaining this year.
The weekend however belonged to Team Toyota who dominated with a double podium first and third place.
Leeroy Poulter and Elve’ne Coetzee took on the National Rally Champs leader Mark Cronje with maximum points this outing, while Geniel de Villiers and Carolyn Swan ended a tidy third to climb up the National Rally Champs rankings.
Mathew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden wrapped up the Toyota rout with a second place in the S1600 class.
Poulter’s win sees a possible challenge for top honours in the S200 drivers championships.
Only nine points separate the two teams and there are three races remaining.
The only real challenger for top spot over the weekend came in the form of a Ford Fiesta, with a well deserved overall second place for Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton.
They finished just 27.2 seconds off the pace at the end of day two.
The Ford team also gets kudos for pulling three stage wins back from the marauding Team Toyota.
Cronje has now finished with three first places and two second places out of five races this year, and has been the most consistent performance in the 2015 championships.
source: Crocotts Mail, Grahamstown