Ford duo claim rally win

REIGNING champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton have won the PMC Gauteng rally, pacing themselves to the finish in Bapsfontein at the weekend to secure their first victory in the 2014 South African Rally Championship.

The duo, campaigning their trusty Ford Dealer Team Ford Fiesta No 24 in the premier S2000 category, doubled their overnight lead and for good measure won another two of the six stages.

Volkswagen Sasolracing Polo S2000 teammates Henk Lategan and navigator Barry White and Hans Weijs Jnr with his navigator, Björn Degandt finished in second and third place which finished at Rallystar Driving Academy on Saturday afternoon.

Lategan and White won stages six, nine and 10 on their way to the second step of the podium – all while carrying a 30 second penalty from day one.

Even with the penalty on their overall time, the pair finished just 49 seconds behind the rally winners.

Weijs and Degandt spent the whole rally either within or close to the top five stage finishers to take third place overall. "We pushed really hard this rally," Lategan says. "Especially on day two we sprang out the blocks, I have never driven so hard in my life. It felt really good and with a good test before the VW Rally, I think we can improve even more."

Lategan and White's "take no prisoners" approach to the event certainly paid off. "Without the opportunity for a recce run, it was very difficult to make a good start at this rally," Weijs says.

"We are quite happy with a third place finish but now it is time for one step more. We are looking forward to the Volkswagen Rally and an even better performance there."

For Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin, the rally was brought to a premature end when they ran off the stage and got bogged down. It was not the birthday celebration Peskin was hoping for.

"A second and third place finish here is a well-earned result for the Volkswagen Sasolracing team," head of Volkswagen Motorsport Mike Rowe says.

With the PMC Rally completed, the national rally championship now heads for the traditional mid-season round in the Eastern Cape. The Volkswagen Rally takes place on Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12, in and around the Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Jeffreys Bay area.