It was celebrations on Saturday at Kings Beach in Port Elizabeth for Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle as the pair finished third in the S1600 class of the VW National Rally, the fourth in the 2012 Championship. Weather conditions were atrocious and the unusual heavy rainfall resulted in the cancellation of stages.
The first two stages on Friday were tricky from the point of view of making the correct tyre choices. Wet weather tyres have more grip, but are more prone to picking up punctures. “We opted to go with dry weather tyres, which resulted in losing a bit of time in the opening stages,” said Botterill.
With only two sets of wet tyres for the rally, Botterill and Vacy-Lyle continued with the tyre selection for the remaining gravel stages and the PE oval, which was cancelled due to the flooding. Stage 5 the first tar stage, Botterill gave it his all, posting the second quickest time in the class and finishing 7th for the day. There was much debate about whether the event would continue on Saturday due to the heavy rain, but only two stages were cancelled.
“Conditions were very muddy and slippery, and I could not believe the extra grip I had with the wets on but found myself being over cautions, and it was only towards the end of the stage that I started to get into a good rhythm, and managed to move up to 6th,” said Botterill.
The next two stages the crew had clean, fast runs and posted the second quickest time in class and closed the gap to a few seconds, and made up two more positions, placing them fourth in class.
Hungry for a podium finish, Botterill knew he had to go as fast as he could in the conditions. “The road surface continually changed from rock to clay, and there was no room for error,” he said. “Winning the stage suddenly bumped us into 3rd in class, and with only Stage 10 Kings Beach. Was the last tar stage, I was only 10 second behind the car in 2nd place. It was a long shot for a short stage but we ran the stage in the 3rd quickest time closing the gap on second place but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to move to the next step up on the podium,” he concluded.
“It was great to be on the podium again, and the unsung heroes in this event, was the officials and service crews who worked terrible conditions to keep drivers in contention,” said Guy.
The next event will be held in August in KZN, the round in which South Africa will be bidding to host a round of the World Rally Championship in the future.back