What : South African Rally Championship Rounds 5 & 6 Preview
Where : Tzaneen, Limpopo Province
When : 25-26 August 2023
Community : South Africa National
SA Rally Championship heads to Tzaneen’s Merensky Forest
It will be a matter of three plays one, when the South African National Rally Championship heads to the stunning Merensky Forest for a tough weekend of rallying at the NTT Tzaneen double-header around the Limpopo town over the weekend of 25-26 August.
JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit’s Hyundai R4 leads the charge to the bushveld town after winning three of the four National rounds so far. In essence still NRC1 rookies, Potgieter and du Toit only celebrate their first year in the top class this weekend, after debuting at this rally last year. Another rookie NRC1 duo, Jono van Wyk and Nico Swartz’ Toyota Gazoo Racing Starlet halted their unbeaten run when they claimed the Round 4 win in the Eastern Cape.
“Tzaneen certainly is a favourite for Jono,” navigator Swartz explains. “He won his class here before, the whole team is brimming with confidence after our win last time out, we have a good car and a good team, and the plan is to win both rounds outright!” The forests around Tzaneen however present their own challenges.
“The roads are rough and narrow, so this one’s a lot more technical than other national rallies, and ambition can easily outweigh ability. “So we will be careful in our approach and must look after the car.” No easy task, considering Potgieter and du Toit won’t relinquish that advantage without a fight and will be pushing hard for victory in both rounds after taking a day win on debut here last year
Chris Coertse and Greg Godrich are celebrating a year of rallying in their Rally Technik Mazda2. Always on the pace and ready to capitalize on any mistakes, the reigning South African Rally Champions will be looking to break their 2023 duck after taking perhaps a little too cautious, but still a consistent and points-scoring approach so far this season.
The fourth crew in the equation, Toyota Gazoo circuit racing refugee Mandla Mdakane and Kes Naidoo showed significant pace in the second Toyota Gazoo Racing Starlet in the Eastern Cape, after engine issues stopped them in the opening two rounds. They ended second on the second Jeffrey’s Bay day and are out to make the Tzaneen event count. “We’d love to finish in Tzaneen with another Toyota 1-2,” Swartz grinned.
Tzaneen loves rallying and the NTT Rally is one of the bushveld town’s major annual attractions. “Support from the Tzaneen Community, be it business, the local council, traffic department, SAPS or just the rally fan in town is just phenomenal,” National Rally Championship Administrator, event organizer and Clerk of Course William Louw explains.
“Tzaneen has been part of South African Rally history of in SA for many a year, so we are most excited go back there for a second consecutive National and Regional event. The local community has been remarkable, businesses have rallied around the local organizing team and competitors are in full prep mode to ready their machines. We thank each and every one who has contributed to make the NTT Tzaneen Rally possible!”
Friday’s Round 5 features seven tests, starting with the 4.6 km Mineshaft stage. Four Merensky Forest stages follow in the 12 km NTT Honda Agatha 1, 31 km NTT Isuzu Dam, 16 km PPS Pipeline and 12 km Honda Agatha 2. Friday concludes with two thrilling evening runs of the popular 1.5 km NTT Toyota Twister in the centre of Tzaneen. Regional cars will join the action there, with quickest crews starting last.
Saturday’s full national and regional Round 6 starts with the superb 5.9 km Supaquick Testing Centre spectator stage and another 12 km run over CIM Lubri Fuel Agatha 3. Crews then face two runs of 31 km NTT Isuzu Dam 1 and 2, each side the 16 km PPS Pipeline test. NTT Rally Tzaneen concludes with the 2.7 km Star Spare Finale spectator stage from gravel onto tar at the spectator friendly Tzaneen Showgrounds Rally HQ and the Service Park.
Find out more and follow The NTT Tzaneen Rally on Facebook or the www.nrcsa.co.za website. See you in Tzaneen for a spectacular weekend of rallying 25-26 August!
Issued on behalf of SA Rally Championship
Photography by: Colin Windell
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