Surprise leaders, strong local rivals await in J-Bay

The MRF South African Rally Championship shifts to Gqeberha to race on the streets of Jeffreys Bay and on to the fearsome Eastern Cape Longmore Forest special stages for its fifth and sixth rounds on 16-17 July. It’s bound to be a decisive weekend, not only thanks to local rally regulars likely to give the National regulars more than just a little run for their money, but also considering an unexpected national championship log heading into the Eastern Cape event.

Few would have expected Chris Coertse and champion navigator Greg Godrich to be leading the respective MRF SA National Drivers and Navigators’ logs, but consistency, as they say, kills the cat. And leading the way is exactly what the Rally Technic Hyundai i20 crew is doing. Just as surprising perhaps, is that Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru sits a strong second, 16 points adrift in what promises to be a scintillating championship ahead, starting right there in J-Bay.

That’s because third and fourth in the title chase, and the other leading NRC1 crews, the flying Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle's Gazoo Toyota Starlet and SA champion Theuns Joubert and Schalk van Heerden’s Salom Yaris are both more than just ready to mount a championship fightback. Another consistent performance sees NRC4 duo, Anrico Opperman and Tommy Coetzee’s Shield VW Polo a giant killing fifth in the title chase, ahead of a dogfight among the NRC2 frontrunners.

Only one championship point separates JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Potgieter Boerdery Ford Fiesta from KZN lad Benjamin Habig and his experienced notes man Barry White’s Just Tools Polo. Both have NR2 rivals, Magriet Potgieter and Rikus Fourie’s Ford Fiesta and Anton Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s AR Panelbeaters Toyota Auri right behind them and ready to pounce and pick up the pieces.

NRC4 crews, Edward and Lune Snyman’s Toyota Tazz, and daughter and mum crew Andrea Raaths and Mari Ducasse’s AR Panelbeaters Toyota Auris are next up in the chase ahead of NRC2 duo Gerald Klopper and Johan Aucamp’s NRC 2 Toyota Etios. There are also a few dark horses out there more than keen to put forgettable first four rounds behind them.

Not least of all NRC1 crews, Wilro Dippenaar and Carolyn Swan’s PZN Toyota Auris, Anton Raath and Louis Menge’s Ford Escort Cosworth and George Smallberger and Robbie Coetzee’s Shield VW Polo. Of even greater concern however, are a gang of local EP and sundry other rallyists keen to show the national lot the way around their own back yard special stage roads…

They include Johnnie and James Johnston’s S4, and Deon Kretzmann’s and Keith McGregor and Clint Koekemoer and Francois Anker's S5 VW Polos. Add S3 crews, Oliver de Man and Ingrid Jeacocks’s Toyota Tazz and Fritz and Elmarie Myburgh’s Toyota Yaris. And just for good measure, throw in Cape Town famous father and kid teams, and Kosie and son Sebastian Swanepoel, and Werner and daughter Leane Koekemoer in a pair of spectacular and ever-sideways BMWs.

The MRF Tyres SA Rally Championship’s 40th Algoa National Rally starts and finishes in Jeffreys Bay, with street stags in the town and the regular gruelling runs through the Longmore Forest and other famous Eastern Cape rally stages. Rally guides will be available from the start in Jeffreys Bay Friday 15 and Saturday 16 July 2022, and at service parks on the route. Keep pace with developments on www.sarally.co.za.