Reigning national rally champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton in the Ford Dealer Team Fiesta S2000 have come away from the Toyota Dealer Rally which ended in Bapsfontein this afternoon with a useful haul of points and a brace of stage victories, making up for an opening day which scuppered their chances of taking a third win on the trot. Importantly though, they remain the championship leaders, but with multiple champion Jannie Habig and Robert Paisley in a similar Ford Fiesta breathing down their neck: a single point separates the two crews after three rounds of the championship.
“Everything went perfectly today, but with little in the way of stage distance to make up time, we weren’t able to improve our overnight position significantly,” said Cronje. “We always knew that a gearbox problem and then an unfortunate encounter with an obstacle which smashed a wheel would force us to fight a rearguard action and we started today with the objective of keeping the pace up and hoping there would be casualties ahead of us.”
This didn’t happen and despite something of a cat and mouse game developing, Habig held his nerve to take a comfortable victory, giving Ford an unbroken string of victories this year, and a podium on every national championship event since the beginning of 2011.
For Habig, who has an impressive six rally championships to his name, the event broke a streak which has seen him winless since 2009.
“Stage wins don’t count for much but it was encouraging to set four fastest times on the trot, and we know that the Ford Dealer Team Fiesta is solid when it comes to outright pace,” said Cronje. “There’s no point lamenting what could have been, and we’re just glad that we’ve done enough to hold onto the lead and the reality is that we’re better off than we were at this point last year. It’s hats off to Jannie on his first win in a Fiesta, and it is great to have a Ford one-two in the championship, with a decent gap to third place as a bonus!”
STORY COURTESY OF MOTORPRESS