TOYOTA'S 1-2-3 PORT ELIZABETH <COLIN WINDELL>:A faultless drive by reigning South African Rally Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede gave their title defence a major boost with victory in the Volkswagen Rally which finished in...
PORT ELIZABETH <COLIN WINDELL>:A faultless drive by reigning South African Rally Champions Serge Damseaux and Vito Bonafede gave their title defence a major boost with victory in the Volkswagen Rally which finished in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
Driving the Castrol Toyota Conquest the pair led the event from the opening special stage in Uitenhage on Friday, some of their task made easier by the high rate of attrition during the two-day event.
At the end Toyota scored a 1-2-3 and finally broke the record held by Ford to become the manufacturer with the highest number of victories in South African rallying.
The Bankfin Hyundai Accent of Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson, potentially the most serious challenge to the Toyota, expired in a cloud of smoke with a blown engine on the first stage. Peter Alterskye and Alan Bissett nearly ended their rally in the same stage when they slid into a curb, destroying the rear suspension on the 'Mr Mr' Toyota Conquest.
They managed to get it repaired and overcame the penalties incurred for the time taken on the repair to storm through the thinning field to claim second overall at the finish, ahead of Natalians Etienne Lourens and Robert Paisley in their 1600 cc Toyota Conquest.
At the overnight halt on Friday night Jan Habig and Douglas Judd in the Stanbrik VW Golf were second overall but they became the first victims of the final day, retiring with flywheel problems. Tjaart van der Walt and Cindi Harding in the Rieks Towing VW Golf inherited the position briefly before they too joined the list of retirements when gearbox problems sidelined them in stage 11.
A steady drive by Barry Grobbelaar and Mike Constable (VW Golf) brought them the reward of finishing fourth overall while a delighted Gys Kleyn and Trisha Ivins (VW Golf) celebrated their highest ever placing on a national event by finishing fifth.
With three events left to run in the 1996 championship the Damseaux/Bonafede pairing look set to retain their national titles but the chase for the other top positions has become wide open.
1. Damseaux/Bonafede (Toyota Conquest), 2hr44,51 2. Alterskye/Bissett (Toyota Conquest), 2hr54,28 3. Lourens/Paisley (Toyota Conquest), 2hr58,47 4. Grobbelaar/Constable (VW Golf), 3hr02,04 5. Kleyn/Ivins (VW Golf), 3hr04,56 6. Goosen/De Jongh (VW Golf), 3hr05,36 7. Brewin/Coombes (Opel Kadett), 3hr08,22 8. Esterhuyse/Barnard (VW Golf), 3hr11,36 9. Woodhead/ Hertz (VW Golf), 3hr13,11 10. Trott/Fryer (Toyota Conquest), 3hr14,23