South Africa’s top rally teams resume their various battles for championship honours with the running of the AMSC-organised 2003 Volkswagen Rally over the weekend of 18 and 19 July 2003, held around Port Elizabeth, Aldo Scribante circuit and the Longmore Forest complex inland from the Eastern Cape seaboard. -

- The event is round 5 of the Sasol DualFuel SA National Rally Championship 2003. -

- Heading the championship leaderboard is the former eight times SA rally driver’s champion, Serge Damseaux and co-driver Robert Paisley, aboard their factory-entered class A8 Team Castrol Toyota RunX RSi. Damseaux’s comfortable 34-point advantage was slashed to just 9 after he was forced out of the Sasol Rally at an early stage last month, and he will be going all out to add a third victory to their tally this year. -

- Chasing hard in arguably the most important rally of the year for the Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Golf-mounted twins are the current champions, Jannie Habig/Douglas Judd and teammates Enzo Kuun/Guy Hodgson, who will be under intense pressure to impress the legion of Volkswagen fans and employees traditionally present on this event. -

- Kuun and Hodgson won the Sasol Rally in June, leading from start to finish, while Habig made a rare driving error and crashed out on the second day of the Mpumulanga event. The class A8 Golf teams are tied in 4th place on the championship table, after both have recorded a win apiece as well as a second overall and two retirements to date. -

- Hounding the top factory cars is the Team Total Toyota Corolla RSi of the current class A7 champions, Etienne Lourens and Andre Vermeulen. Lourens is having a stellar year with spectacular drives and led all four rallies held so far this year, recording three consecutive podium placings, which leaves the Centurion-based businessman second overall in the championship chase. -

- The class A7 Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Polo Playas of Hergen Fekken/Dave Lewkowicz and Tjaart van der Walt/Mike Burrows have experienced a torrid season to date, recording just one finish between them from eight starts. Fekken proved on the Sasol Rally last month that the Polo Playas are still a force to be reckoned with as he set about chasing the class lead. The Volkswagen Motorsport technicians have been burning the midnight oil to rectify the unreliability problems that have plagued the Polo Playas this year, and their home event could be the catalyst for another stunning performance. -

- Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Cobus Vrey have come to grips with their class A7 Team Total Toyota Corolla RSi, recording their second finish of the year last month, in this, their first attempt at running in the faster class A7, having previously campaigned in class A6. -

- Cliff Blackman/Johan Klaasen has finally recorded a finish in the spectacular Topcar Bosch BMW 320i, the only rally BMW in the world. With reliability now addressed, more power will take the tail-happy BMW nearer to the class leading pace. -

- Flying the Volkswagen flag in class A7 and capable of adding points towards the prestigious Manufacturer’s Championship, is the local team of Adrian Karth/Rikus Fourie (Shatterprufe NetConnect Polo Playa), Barry Grobbelaar/AN Other and Deon/Stella Coleske in similar Polo Playas. -

- The Production Car championship was turned on its head on the Sasol Rally after the points leaders, Gauteng youngsters Nicholas Ryan/Brian Carrihill (ABC Motors Subaru Impreza GT) left the road and failed to score points. Taking over the lead of class N4 is the Bridgestone Sasol DualFuel Subaru Impreza WRX Sti of veterans Schalk Burger/Vito Bonafede, who scored their second podium of the year and leapfrogged to third in the overall points standings. -

- Fernando Rueda/Martin Botha, leading the 2003 African Rally Championship after three consecutive victories, will try to claim the points lead in his class N4 Motion Motorsport Sasol DualFuel Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7. Rueda has been erratic this year, suffering a number of reliability maladies, but is easily capable of challenging for a podium place. -

- Johnny Gemmell, the current African Rally Drivers’ Champion, and co-driver Greg Godrich, have experienced a torrid season to date in their L&J Plant Services Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, but their luck is due to change, and Gemmell is capable of winning rallies outright on sheer pace alone. -

- The current class N4 champion Leon Botha/Richard Clark, are out to defend their crown in their Pretoria Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, and have shown class winning pace this year. Leon’s son, Jacques Botha, and co-driver Henry Dearlove, scored a surprising result in their newly built Impreza Sportwagon, built in just four days ahead of the Sasol Rally. -

- Rocky Reyneke/Andre Pheiffer (Hencom Motorsport Subaru Impreza GT) and Visser du Plessis/Thilo von Westernhagen (Lipton Iced Tea Impreza WRX Sti) are steady top 10 points scorers and more of the same can be expected from these crews, while Jose Ferreira/Miguel da Costa (Italian Panelbeaters Subaru Impreza GT) are on a high after scoring their career best result on the Sasol Rally. -

- Other Subaru runners include the Sasol-supported Rally Chicks Impreza WRX entry of Lola and Megan Verlaque, the only all girl team in SA rallying, who have moved steadily up the results sheets this year. Rob du Preez/Richard Gerntholtz and Callie vd Merwe/Gideon Trollip are both new to All Wheel Drive rallying, and will be adding to their experience of how to maximize their performance from these supercars. Class A6 should be the domain of Craig Trott/Gerhard Snyman in their Team Total Toyota Corolla RSi and they enjoy a healthy class points lead. Chasing them is the similar Team React Corolla RSi of Andy Haigh Smith/Gerald Brace and privateers Paul Pheiffer/Duncan English in another Corolla RSi. -

- Dolf Coetzee/Willie Malan head the class A5 leaderboard in their un-sponsored Toyota Tazz, but are coming under increasing pressure from Gugu Zulu and Dave McGregor in their Sasol DualFuel Volkswagen Chico, following the latter’s two consecutive class wins. The second Sasol Chico of Nkosinathi Nzimande/Fani Fani Meyiwa has finished every rally this year and they currently lie second in the class A5 points chase. -

- In contrast, the reigning class A5 champions Rodney Visagie/Carolyn Swan (Team Total Toyota Tazz) have scored just twice from four events, but can never be discounted from the reckoning. Motoring journalist Michele Lupini/Gary Kingsley-Wilkens have yet to score a point in their Sabat Tazz and will face competition from Gregory Bloomer/Greg Gericke in their Toy Toy Tazz while one of Topcar’s journalists will field yet another Toyota Tazz, as will Armand and Salie du Toit (President Panelbeaters Tazz). -

- Class N3 should deliver the first champions of the year on the Volkswagen Rally, as former track racing star Charl Wilken and multiple off-road co-driver’s champion Robin Houghton have a clean sweep of class victories in their factory-entered Team Castrol Toyota RunX RSi. Their competition comes from the fast but fragile Friendly Grocer Renault Clio of Wiley Harrington/Willie van Straaten. -

- Dean Sanders/Rod Hering (Team Total Toyota Corolla RSi) have recorded a single finish this year and are due a change in fortunes, but have faced a stern challenge from Richard Behm/Grant St Clair in their similar Palbin Corolla RSi. Joining the fray is the KZN-based pairing of Chris de Wit/Janine Labuschagne (CTH Transport Corolla RSi) if the car can be repaired in time after rolling out of the Sasol Rally. -

- Rounding out the entry on the Volkswagen Rally are the brothers Bryan/Keith Heine, who have scored six consecutive class N1 wins in their Penny Pinchers VW Chico (including the final two events of the 2002 season). Another class-winning performance can be expected from them, but they will face opposition from the Protea Hotels LUK Toyota Tazz of Hylton Belitzky/Ryan Cheyne and the similar Tazz of the Team Total Sowetan development team, crewed by Vusi Mabanga/Patrick Yende. -

- Kings Beach parking lot is the start venue at 12h00 on Friday, and the same venue sees the official finish at 16h30 on Saturday. In between there are 206 kms of rallying, much of which will be in the Longmore forests, on Saturday in particular, as well as Super Specials, one for 3 cars at a time (the Sasol DualFuel Dash) at the Aldo Scribante racing circuit. -

- For more information on the Volkswagen Rally or any other news and points on the Sasol DualFuel SA National Rally Championship, log on to www.sasolrallyscene.co.za or call 08 22 33 4321. -

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Original article from Car