Round five of the 2017 National Rally title chase, the Electrothread Rally, will take place this Friday and Saturday in and around Bronkhorstspruit and Cullinan.
Since the introduction of the R2 class for front-wheel drive, 1600cc cars Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy Lyle (Gazoo Toyota Yaris) have almost automatically started as every rally’s victory favourites.
Not any more though, for Richard Leeke/ Henry Kohne (ATS Ford Fiesta) top the 2017 leader board after four rounds.
They claimed their maiden victory in last month’s Volkswagen Rally while Botterill suffered a rare non-finish in his Toyota. The Electrothread Rally, which will feature 11 special stages totalling 142 km, will see the two title rivals go hammer and tong across dusty Gauteng roads.
To date, Botterill has scored two victories and a third place while Leeke has one victory, two second place finishes and a sixth place to his credit. Waiting in the wings will be Chris Coertse/Greg Godrich in their Electrothread Mazda2.
This is the first chance for Gauteng motorsport fans to see the newcomer, which won on debut in Secunda in May. AC Potgieter/Nico Swartz (Lake Umuzi VW Polo R2) have two seconds and two non-finishes and lie fourth in the standings.
Jono van Wyk/Scott Howden (Swazi Cowboy Ford Fiesta R2) are two and a half points further back and any of the above trio could snatch victory come Saturday afternoon.
Tjaart Conradie/Mari van der Walt (Silverton Engineering Toyota Etios R2) have two fourth place finishes and two non-finishes, which has dented their challenge.
The Shield Car Care VW Polo of George Smalberger/Chris Brand is another to suffer two non-finishes, so they prop up the bottom of the points log. A newcomer in the top class is Johannes Potgieter/Tommy Du Toit in a Ford Fiesta R2.
No fewer than nine historic rally cars will be in action, headed by Roelof Coertse/Barry White in a Ford Escort Mk 2. Natie Booysen/Les McKenzie will man an Escort Mk 1, while Toyota is represented by Nico Nienaber/Gert van Rensburg and Pierre de Clerq/Mauritz Britz.
The Verlaque clan, Lola/Eddie and Megan/Oliver will be in a pair of VW Golfs, as will Hubi von Maltke/Terry Illman. Finally, 13 Northern Regions rally crews will round out the 31 car entry. The Electrothread Rally will start from Godrich Toyota on Friday at 3pm.
Two stages will be held to the north of Bronkhorstspruit, located either side of the R25 and one just 4km away from Rally HQ.
Saturday’s action will get underway at 7.45am with three groups of two stages, all within 16km of the town.
The final pair of stages will be around Cullinan. The first car is due to finish at the Willem Prinsloo Museum at 4.18pm.