Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Team Toyota Yaris) finished a strong second in the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally which ended near Bapsfontein east of Johannesburg this afternoon. They completed the two-day, 10-stage third round of the South African Rally Championship in their four-wheel drive class S2000 Yaris 45 seconds behind the winning pairing of Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Ford Fiesta).
It might have been a very different story had they not inadvertently clocked in early to the start of the final stage on Friday and incurred a 60-second penalty. This dropped them from the overnight lead at the end of the first day to fourth place.
Gemmell’s and Swan’s Toyota Motorsport South Africa team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich, who were an excellent second overall at the overnight stop, 28 seconds behind Habig and Paisley, brought their Imperial Toyota Yaris home in fourth place, 1 min 14 sec behind the winners and nine seconds behind third-placed Enzo Kuun and Douglas Judd (VW Polo).
Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee in the second Castrol Yaris were 18th overall and 13th in the S2000 class after competing on Saturday under Super Rally rules following their retirement on Friday’s first stage. They had started the event from the Toyota Parts Distribution Warehouse near Boksburg as one of the favourites to win the rally, along with team-mates Gemmell and Swan and championship leaders Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta). Some 13 kilometres into the 27-kilometre stage, when they looked headed for a stage win, they clipped a rock with a rear wheel and damaged the suspension badly enough to retire on the spot.
They had a good run on Saturday after the crack Toyota Motorsport service crew had repaired their car and finished with a win in the final stage of the day, the Super Special at the RallyStar Motorsport Academy near Bapsfontein.
“We came to this event with high hopes after very encouraging results in pre-event testing,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “We’ve made quite a few changes and improvements in our development of the new Yaris and we’re pleased with its performance in only its third national championship rally.
“Johnny’s and Carolyn’s overall performance this weekend deserved a better reward than second place, but that’s rallying. Leeroy and Elvéne were unfortunate to run into trouble so soon in a rally that promised so much for both crews. Their stage results on Saturday confirmed our belief that we’re getting closer to optimising the performance of the Yaris, but this is an ongoing process and the competition is also improving and getting stronger all the time.”
STORY BY TOYOTA