Botterill and Vacy-Lyle show they’ve got what it takes
Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle this weekend proved that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2011 SA Rally Championship season. Botterill, better known for track racing and a number of championship titles to his name, debuted onto the SA Rally scene in the Tour Natal Rally this weekend. Guy has been racing since the tender age of 8 years old behind the wheel of a kart, and over the years clinched regional and national championships in the various forms of motorsport.
After karting, Guy raced in the VW Polo Cup series and then Shelby Cam-am series. At the end of 2010 he decided to move into rallying, and bought a Toyota Run X to contest the new Super 1600 class. He competed in two rounds of the Northern Regional Rally Championship in 2010 and finished a credible 2nd in class. A fortnight ago partnered by his friend and first-time navigator, Simon Vacy-Lyle finished 2nd in Class and 4th overall in the Burma Belfast Rally. Vacy-Lyle found himself on the wrong side of the car, also being an aspiring driver in the karting circuit.
The Total Tour Natal Rally is one of the most exciting rounds of the championship, with new cars, new driver-navigator combinations, and the brave who make their rally debut. The event started at lunchtime on Friday at the Arbour Crossings Shopping Centre and then moved to gravel stages near Scottburgh. At the end of Day one Botterrill found himself in fourth place in class S1600. Saturday morning, once he found his rhythm with the car, and navigator Simon not calling a single wrong instruction, the two found themselves closing in on class leaders, Ashleigh Haig-Smith.
After Special Stage 8, with two stage wins in the bag, Botterill and Vacy-Lyle found themselves leading the class. But Lady Luck drew a bitter blow, and in a hairpin bend, the Toyota found itself on it’s side. “I was still giving the instructions” said Simon. The car landed on it’s side, and with not a spectator in sight, it took 18 minutes to rock the car back onto it’s wheels. The pairing lost precious time, but determined to finish they completed the stage.
“We went into the service park, and the car was cleared by our Race Prep service crew and we went into the penultimate stage, but unfortunately the engine seized,” said a disappointed Botterill. “Our aim was just to finish, and the fact that we were leading the class was just a bonus,” he continued. “As privateers, the sport is really expensive and we are hoping to secure more sponsors for the remainder of the season, but without Race Prep and our sponsors – Yato Tools, Liqui Moly, Aqua Transport, Toyota Garden Court Umhlanga Rocks, and Action Signs, Kuluma TV and Puma this event would not have been possible for us. We are looking forward to the remainder of the season, and believe we can be a strong and successful contender in the S1600 class,” said Botterill.
The next event is the Sasol Rally which will be held on 15 and 16 April in the Sabie/Nelspruit area.
RACE PREP YOUNG GUNS SHOW RALLY WINNING PACE
REVIEW: TOTAL TOUR NATAL RALLY
The trophy cupboard may be bare after the opening round of the South African Rally Championship, but the Race Prep team came away from the Total Tour Natal Rally filled with optimism for the season ahead after Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle comfortably led the Super 1600 class in their Yato Tools/Liqui Moly Toyota RunX before rolling out of the event just three stages from home.
For fellow debutants Ian Young and Herman Groenewald in Super 1400, the event ended at the same time as their Associated Alterations Toyota Yaris suffered from terminal mechanical problems.
Guy and Simon spent the first day’s five stages getting to grips with the car, road conditions and each other. The pair ended 19th overall out of 38 starters and 5th in class, just 22 seconds behind the 1600cc leaders.
Guy’s first stage win on a national event came on stage 7 as they trimmed their deficit to 8 seconds. After winning stage 8, the Yato Tools RunX was just 4 seconds behind and swept into the lead after stage 9. After stage 10, their lead was 11 seconds before disaster struck.
“It was a stupid, slow roll”, explained Guy. “In the Ellingham repeat stage, there was a hairpin right which was quite rutted after the first run earlier in the day. I grabbed the handbrake to bring the back of the car around and the tyre dug in, tipping us onto the side for 25 minutes. The sweep car helped us back on our wheels and we finished the stage. It was such a slow roll, pathetic. It was embarrassingly slow”.
He continued: “In service, the team checked everything, added oil and the engine sounded fine. We were on for a good time and without any warning at all, the engine blew. No noises, nothing, as if someone flicked a switch”.
“We had a few mistakes along the way but it was a good rally. Simon was great; he got all the notes right”, Guy said.
Ian was in the thick of the Super 1400 battle, winning the 950m long tarmac stage on Friday night. “It’s home ground”, said the karting champion. “The rally was very challenging; I had to get used to someone talking to me all the time and when we went really fast, the noise was so bad I couldn’t hear Herman and had to back off the throttle, which cost us a bit of time”.
The Associated Alterations Yaris was second in class for most of the event when the locating pin on the crankshaft pulley sheared, consequently no longer driving the water pump and alternator, forcing their retirement.
“Rallying is very difficult to start with. Besides the constant flow of instructions, the car was difficult to control on the slippery roads. It was difficult to know how fast to take a corner based on a description of the angle of the turn. I need to spend more time on the notes and push myself a lot harder”, said the 19-year old driver.
Team Manager Rod Hering said: “Guy drove a very mature rally and showed the potential to win is there. Simon was very good; he didn’t make any book-keeping errors at all. With a bit more experience, this wouldn’t have happened; it’s part of the learning curve for both of them”.
“Ian showed great signs of progress but they had various issues in every stage. The Tour is renowned for culling people, but this wasn’t Ian’s fault”.
The next outing for the Yato Tools/Liqui Moly Toyota RunX and Associated Alterations Toyota Yaris is the Sasol Rally on 15 and 16 April.
Issued on behalf of Race Prep Motorsport Solutions
Contact: Rod Hering
Race Prep fielding two talented youngsters in SA Rally Championship
Race Prep Motorsport Solutions has built their reputation fielding talented young circuit or gravel racers in the cut-and-thrust of rally competition and 2011 sees two fresh new names join the sport.
Running in the Super 1600 class (formerly A6), Guy Botterill comes off a successful circuit racing career, where he ended as runner-up in the Shelby Can-Am Championship last season and has competed in just three regional rallies.
He and co-driver Simon Vacy-Lyle will drive the 2010 class A6 championship-winning Toyota RunX under the Yato Tools/Liqui Moly banner, starting with the Total Tour Natal Rally on 25th and 26th March, while 19 year-old triple karting champion Ian Young Jr and Herman Groenewald take to the stages in a Super 1400 (formerly A5) Associated Alterations Toyota Yaris.
25-year old Guy’s third and most recent event was the 2011 Belfast Rally where he finished a creditable 4th overall with a brand new navigator in the hot-seat.
“Rallying is a far more involving sport for the driver and not as dependant on your equipment. You can’t practice and the road conditions constantly change, making rallying more challenging”, says Guy.
“My car is brilliant and does everything it is meant to do. It’s making me look good!” he quipped. “We don’t have the budget to put a sequential gearbox in; otherwise it would be world class”.
“I’ll be driving against some top names like Gugu Zulu, Ashley Haigh Smith and Craig Trott, which is a big step up from regional rallying and I’ll have to raise my game accordingly. It will be interesting to see how well I stack up against them”, Guy continued. “My game plan is to get mileage. I did a test in the canefields last December and it’s mind-blowing just how slippery the stages are. My main aim will be to just finish”.
Ian Young has just one rally under his belt. “I kept the car on the road and finished”, he says proudly. “On the repeated stages, I bettered my own times by a minute per stage. I love rallying! It’s the ultimate form of racing”, says the 2009 and 2010 SuperRok karting champion.
Ian’s other racing experience includes three races in a Formula Volkswagen single seater, where he finished 4th overall in his third race.
Coached and mentored by former Race Prep team member and current factory Toyota driver Leeroy Poulter, Ian quickly learnt the importance of the navigator’s role. “It’s important to get the calls right and on time. The year will be a bit harsh to start with and I’m planning to just keep the car on the road; I’m not expecting too much initially but hope to be on the pace after mid-season as I gain more experience”.
Ian will be guided by 39-year-old Herman Groenewald, a Pretoria-based senior Air Force officer. “It is a privilege that Rod asked me to guide his latest young hotshot”, he said.
Race Prep Team Manager Rod Hering said of his 2011 chargers: “Guy surprised me on the Belfast Rally with a brand new navigator. He finished only 20 seconds behind Aggie Stroh who is the Class S3 regional champion. He’s showing all the signs of being a good rally driver. He thinks about what he’s doing and shows maturity in his approach.”
“Ian has the right attitude to do well in the sport and will make a name for himself. Simon (Vacy-Lyle) did an astonishing job given that it was his first rally. He did a navigator’s course and jumped in at the deep end and did rather well. I’m looking forward to a few surprises this year”, Rod concluded.