Serge Damseaux drove his Castrol Toyota RunX RSi to a 24-second victory on the Sasol Rally in Nelspruit at the weekend.

Serge Damseaux drove his Castrol Toyota RunX RSi to a 24-second victory on the Sasol Rally in Nelspruit at the weekend.

Damseaux and co-driver Robert Paisley were under constant pressure from the BP Volkswagen Polo entries of Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson and later Jan Habig and Douglas Judd. Kuun won the first stage in wet and misty conditions around Sabie and Graskop to take an early lead, before Damseaux struck back on Stage Two.

Kuun retook the lead on Stage Three, but after that Damseaux held on to the lead to the finish of the 17-stage event. It was a close run event, with Damseaux's overnight time gap just one second from Kuun. Day Two saw Damseaux and Paisley inch away from their rivals to establish a lead that was never threatened again. This was Damseaux's first victory on the Sasol Rally in seven years.

Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson lost second place on Stage 14 when a suspension bolt pulled out of the chassis 5km into the stage, costing the pair three minutes in lost time. Habig and Judd brought their new S2000 BP Polo home to its second consecutive runner up spot after losing half a minute on Day One with a misfire, and survived a scare when their gearbox oil cooler broke on Stage 14.

Fourth overall and first in the production car category was the ESPI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 of Japie van Niekerk and Greg Godrich. They enjoyed a trouble-free run throughout the two-day event running in fifth place behind the L&J Plant/Sasol delight Lancer Evo 7 of Johnny Gemmell and Martie Olivier.

Gemmell and Olivier led the Production Car challenge from the start until Stage 13 when they were forced to stop and lost six minutes to change a flat tyre. They also battled with a broken gearbox mounting on Stages 10 and 11, but claimed seventh spot.

A member of the public reported Gemmell to the organisers for alleged dangerous driving on Friday night on public roads between stages and the organisers excluded Gemmell and Olivier from the results. A subsequent appeal by Gemmell was overturned, but he has lodged an appeal with Motorsport SA. As a result, all results from seventh onwards remain provisional until the hearing.

Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries won class A7 in their BP Volkswagen Polo after a dominant drive, surviving a broken engine mounting on Stage 5. Their main rivals, Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Cobus Vrey (Total Toyota RunX RSi) suffered a broken sideshaft on Day One and lost two minutes. The Somerset West-based driver survived a rule infringement allegation on Friday to steer the RunX to eighth overall after a consistent run on day two.

After a slow start, Nicholas Ryan and Schalk van Heerden (Bosal Brospeed Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) upped their pace on Day Two to finish in an eventual sixth overall after Gemmell's exclusion. They had to contend with a brake problems on Stage 13, but finished the event in the overall lead of the production car championship.

Jacques Botha and Greg Gericke drove to a solid eighth overall in their Bosal Brospeed Subaru Impreza to claim their second finish of the year, ahead of Capetonians Paul Pfeiffer and Duncan English in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.

Rounding out the top 10 was the veteran driver Mally Saville and co-driver Dean Redelinghuys in their Auto Services Subaru Impreza WRX STi after a flawless drive.

Craig Trott and John Costa won class A6 in their Team Total Toyota Corolla Rsi, ahead of Stevan Wilken and Brian Carrihill in a Conquest RSi. Michael Houghton and Bryn Doherty scored their third class A5 win in a row, this time inherited after the defending champion and rally-long class leaders Dolf Coetzee and Irma du Plooy suffered from shock absorber problems in the latter part of the rally. Gugu Zulu/Llewellyn Fourie ended second in class in their BP Volkswagen Chico.

Class N3 was a Chris de Wit/Patrick Yende benefit, the Team Total Toyota RunX RSi pairing ending 35 seconds ahead of Rodney Visagie/Carolyn Swan in a similar Total RunX. The Sasol Toyota RunX pairing of Claudio Piazza Musso/Janine Labuschagne endured gearbox mounting problems but ended fourth in class.

Mike Nathan and Graham Hooper scored their maiden class N2 victory in their AWI Toyota Corolla RSi with fellow Capetonians Etienne du Toit/Patrick Vermaak scoring a class runner up spot in their similar McCarthy Toyota Corolla.

The Sasol Rally will be broadcast on M-Net and Supersport 2 at noon on Saturday June 18, with numerous repeat broadcasts to follow.

For more information on the Sasol Rally 2005 or any aspect of the Sasol SA Rally Championship 2005, click here or call 082 2334 321.

Original article from Car