South African Rally Championship shifts into gear for 2012

The Rally Commission of Motorsport South Africa has aligned itself more closely with the regulations of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world controlling body of motor sport, for the 2012 season and the South African Rally Championship will now be contested in a simplified format of just two championship classes.

The premier class remains Super 2000 (S2000) for modified, normally-aspirated, four-wheel drive cars with engine capacity not exceeding two litres. The second class is Super 1600 (S1600) for modified, normally-aspirated, two-wheel drive cars with engine capacity not exceeding 1,6 litres. Both will compete for the overall national championship, while S1600 will also compete in the Two Wheel Drive Championship introduced in 2011.

Group N production cars in class N4 (engine capacity over two litres) will continue to compete in S2000, while cars complying with last year’s Super 1400 (S1400) can compete in S1600 if they are upgraded to the S1600 specifications.

“The aim of the change is to have a strong entry and even better competition in each class,” said commission technical director Hein Lategan, a leading S2000 competitor. “We didn’t have to tinker with the well-supported S2000 and we expect S1600 to grow and lift the standard of competition among the young, up and coming competitors.”

An innovation this season is a separate S2000 Challenge for the earlier generation S2000 cars and the Group N4 cars, which will be scored separately from the overall championship.

“We have done this to recognise the many privateers who make up a significant proportion of our premier class and who, together with the factory entries and the top privateers, make up the strongest S2000 class in any national rally championship in the world,” said rally commission president Richard Leeke.

S2000 entries averaged around 17 last season and a total of 20 scored championship points during the season.

“The phenomenal growth of S2000 locally in recent seasons and the highly competitive nature of our national championship, in all classes, makes ours one of the strongest and most respected championship in the world,” added Leeke.

“By aligning ourselves more closely with the technical regulations of the FIA we aim to make our championship even stronger and more relevant, both domestically and internationally.

“It is no secret that we would like to see South Africa with a date on the World Rally Championship calendar and we are working towards this.”

The new season opens with the Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal on March 23 and 24. There will be eight rounds with the seven best results to count towards the championship. The other rounds are: Sasol Rally, April 20 and 21; Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally, June 8 and 9; VW Rally, July 13 and 14; Gauteng Rally, August 10 and 11; Toyota Dealer Cape Rally, Aug 30 and September 1; MTN Polokwane Rally, October 5 and 6; Garden Route Rally, November 2 and 3.

Megan Verlaque/Lirene du Plessis - Picture by Evan Rothman.