The 2012 South African rally champions, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, have been invited by Malcolm Wilson, who heads up M-Sport, to compete in the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the United Kingdom on March 2.
They will be provided with a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car and will be given tuition in a pre-rally test session by Malcolm’s son, Matthew, who is an experienced WRC competitor.
The event will use classic stages in the Lake District, which is an area used for the Wales Rally GB round of the World Rally Championship. The one-day event will cover a route of 300 km with seven special stagers totalling some 75km. The rally has been staged since 1975 and is expected to attract more than 100 competitors at an entry fee of R5 500 per car!
Robin is being provided with pace notes similar to the system used in SA which should make things much easier for the duo, as in recent years SA drivers competing in overseas event – such as Jan Habig in the 2012 Rally Wales GB – have employed local co-drivers.
Malcolm Wilson, who competed in SA in the 1970’s, says his sponsorship of the SA crew is a thank you for them winning the 2012 SA rally championship in a car built by M-Sport. Although his M-Sport team no longer has Ford as a headline sponsor it still has the company as a technical partner and continues to compete at the highest level in rallying.
“Robin and I are very proud to be given this invitation by Malcolm Wilson,” said Mark Cronje. “Although not a major international event it will give us the opportunity to learn first-hand about conditions in the UK and also to evaluate our performance at WRC level should an opportunity present itself to compete in a WRC or ERC event later in the year.”
“This invitation for the South African champions to compete in a British rally is a real feather in the cap, not only for Mark and Robin, but also because it acknowledges the high standard of rallying in our country,” said the president of the SA Rally Commission, Richard Leeke.
“What is important is that the invitation came from one of the most influential men in world rallying, as Malcolm is the person who has been responsible for running Ford’s official rally programme for 16 years and indeed has been instrumental in the development of the S2000 category which forms the basis of our national rally series. He is also a respected rally driver with fond memories of competing in South Africa in our international Total and Castrol rallies.”
Cronje #24 is sponsored by the Ford Dealers of South Africa, Ferodo, Thule, Portable Shade and Bandit Signs.