MBABANE, SWAZILAND <Colin Windell>: Drama in the closing stages of the Castrol International Rally which finished at the Royal Swazi Spa yesterday saw Sarel van der Merwe and Franz Boshoff snatch victory to give Korean automaker Daewoo a dream debut win in South African rallying.
With only a few special stages left to go in the 25th running of the event turbo problems forced Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson in the Hyundai Accent to take lateness and penalties while hasty repairs were made to
the car - dropping them from the first place they had held since early
in the event on Thursday.
The Hyundai pairing took over the lead on special stage seven when reigning South African Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede comprehensively rolled their Castrol Toyota Conquest. When the rally arrived in Swaziland on Thursday night for the first regroup Kuun had a lead of nine minutes over the Autoquip Volkswagen Golf of Terry Brand and Martie Olivier. During Friday's special stages Van der Merwe
moved past Brand to put the 2,0-litre Daewoo Cielo into second place.
Starting the final leg of the rally yesterday morning Kuun had a seemingly unassailable lead of more than 17 minutes over Van der Merwe - then the problems with the turbo unit started and the lead was
slashed as penalty points mounted and two stages from the finish the Van der Merwe/Boshoff pairing moved into the lead.
For 11 times South African Rally Champion Sarel van der Merwe it was also his 10th Castrol International Rally victory and a dream return to rallying for him and Franz Boshoff after three years in retirement.
Terry Brand and Martie Olivier brought the Autoquip Golf home in third
place after having battled for much of the event with an engine misfire while former rally driver turned off-road racer Kassie Coetzee
showed he had lost none of his touch, finishing fourth overall with Richard Leeke in their turbo-charged Toyota Hilux and winning the Videosport Off-Road Challenge that forms part of the Castrol Rally.
Fifth place went to the Volkswagen Golf pairing of Alan Mitrovich and Mike Burrows ahead of the off-road Toyota Landcruiser of Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton. In seventh spot were the Team Total crew of Tony Ball and Brian Duncan (Volkswagen Golf) ahead of the Team Total Fiat Uno driven by Paolo Piazza-Musso and Cindi Harding. Ninth place, despite rolling his car in the final stages, went to Hergen Fekken and
Niel Fourie in their Toyota Conquest with Natalian Brian Martin and Brian Duncan also in a Toyota Conquest completing the top 10.