Potgieter top scores in dramatic NTT Tzaneen Rally

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JJ Potgieter and Tommy du Toit put down yet another marker in their quest to become the 2023 South African National Rally Champions when they convincingly won both rounds of the NTT Tzaneen Rally double-header at the weekend in an event that saw several top contenders fall by the wayside.

Of the 13 Special Stages over the two days, Potgieter (Hyundai i20 – R4) won 11 of them – a task made easier when the forests fought back and saw his prime competitors for the title, Jono van Wyk/Nico Swartz (Toyota Gazoo Racing Starlet) irreparably blow an engine in the opening stages, followed shortly thereafter by defending champions Chris Coertse/Greg Godrich (Rally Technik Mazda 2) who went off the road and hit a tree and then teammates Mandla Mdakane/Kes Naidoo who hit a rock and damaged the Starlet’s sub-frame.

National Rally Championship Round 5

Some late-night work by the Toyota Gazoo Racing team was able to repair the damage to Mdakane’s car so he could start the completely new rally afresh – sadly not so for Van Wyk who saw more valuable championship points slip from his grasp.

Potgieter wasted no time in setting the pace and won the technical Supaquick Test Centre stage by a little overall second from the fired up Mdakane/Naidoo pairing with Strauss/Venter showing good pace to be third quickest.


Getting back into the forest for the CIM Lubri Fuel Agatha stage, Potgieter again blitzed the opposition with Mdakane finishing second quickest and Klopper/Lourens turning up the heat to be third on the stage.

“I am pacing myself but I cannot ease up too much,” said Potgieter. “Doing that can mean a disastrous loss of concentration.”

This ‘easing up’ showed on the first visit to the NTT Isuzu Dam stage and he was second on that to Joubert/Van Heerden and just ahead of Habig/White, while Mdakane slipped a little and could finish only ninth fastest.

Order was restored on the PPS Pipeline stage and Potgieter went fastest ahead of the exceptionally tense battle developing between Klopper/Lourens and the Nienabers with Habig now out of the running, having blown a gearbox in the Dam stage.

Behind Potgieter in the second running of the Dam stage, Klopper and Nienaber fought it out with both their cars developing problems with third gear jumping out of place at very inopportune times. At this point, Klopper was running a shade over a minute ahead of Nienaber on total time.

The final stage of the day, the Star Spares Finale, and the knowledge he had won the event allowed Potgieter the luxury of ‘cruising’ through and he finished third behind the Regional Championship pairing of Erik de Jager and Jonty Brown (Subaru Impreza) and Klopper/Lourens.

 

Their overall wins in both rounds give Potgieter/Du Toit and almost unassailable points lead in the 2023 Championship with two double-header events left to run.

Series Partners to the NRC – Ctrack, Fixed Mobile Telecoms, Electrothread, Trans African Concessions – TRACN4, Mibern Medi-Call, MRF Tyres Africa, Raceday TV

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