Bittersweet symphonies at season finale for Team Total

The Challenge:
After two days, 16 demanding stages and a route of 680km, the conclusion of the 2011 South African Rally Championship proved that this sport is highly entertaining, awe-inspiring and offer’s world-level competition.

Pushing the limits of mechanical and physical limits, the Toyota Auris S2000 of Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee claimed the win to record their second of the season. This pairing locked in a rally-long battle with Mark Cronje/Robin Houghton (Ford Fiesta S2000) and Hergen Fekken/Pierre Arries (Volkswagen Polo S2000) was only finalized after the last car completed the rally. Cronje finished second overall, 2.7sec behind the winner and Fekken came home 5.5sec adrift.

Interestingly, this event win is only Toyota’s second of the season as six rally wins have been collected by Ford Fiesta S2000 crews.

High-speed sections, long open sections, dry and dusty farm roads, and twisty tree-lined routes characterized this rally. The rally lead changed several times over the course of the weekend, with several key drivers falling victim to the event’s high rate of attrition.

The Crews:
Boasting the largest privateer rally team in South Africa, Team Total took to the final event of the season with excitement and eagerness. The four-car squad has recorded strong results throughout the year and with an event as demanding on both car and crew Team Total accepted the challenge with gusto.

Team Total contests the premier Class S2000 with two crews and the Class S1600 and Two Wheel Drive Championship with two crews. All four cars are Toyotas, with the Class S2000 machines the latest iterations of the rally-winning Auris S2000.

Mohammed Moosa and Grant Martin (number #9 Team Total Toyota Auris S2000) pushed their rivals in every stage on Day One despite clutch worries. These problems persisted on Day Two’s seven speed tests, but never hampered the aggression behind the steering wheel displayed by Moosa.

“With the mechanical problems we experienced, we drove every stage as hard and fast as our car allowed,” said Moosa. “We’re happy that we consistently posted strong stage times. It was a fast and tricky rally.”

Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Carolyn Swan (number #10 Team Total Toyota Auris S2000) retired on Day One after a strong showing in the event’s opening stages. Damseaux clipped a tree on a sharp bend to damage the left rear wheel assembly.

Multiple former Class champions Craig Trott and Robbie Coetzee (number #52 Team Total Toyota RunX S1600) fought bravely over the event’s 16 stages, dueling for a spot on the Class S1600 podium for the end of the rally. A determined drive on Day Two saw Trott move up the leader board to claim third position in his category.

“This was a tough event. The roads and conditions made this rally great for spectators and competitors alike. We’re very happy with our performance, and will be back next season to win our title back.”

This sport can be cruel, and Stefanie Botha and Angela Shields (number #60 Team Total Toyota RunX S1600) suffered poor luck once more this season when on Day One they were forced to retire from the event with a broken sideshaft. The all-female crew restarted Day Two under SupeRally rules and proved their potential to outpace their Class S1600 rivals. Unfortunately, their run of speed was brought to a sudden halt by an electrical failure that sidelined their rally machine.

Follow Team Total:
For news and photographs live from the event, visit us on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/pBFCpZ and on Twitter at http://bit.ly/jBLu4j. For more information, please visit www.totalmotorsport.co.za.

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