TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa's (TGRSA) National Rally Championship (NRC) team recorded a stunning 1-2 finish during Round 4 of the 2023 South African National Rally Championship, which took place on Saturday, 8 July, in the area surrounding Jeffreys Bay and the fearsome Longmore Forest.
The team started their Algoa Rally campaign with Round 3 of the championship on Friday, 7 July, on stages set in the same area. But engine problems precluded Jono van Wyk, the so-called “Swazi Cowboy”, from the final results. Teammate Mandla Mdakane, a relative rally rookie, recorded a fourth-place finish on the day, despite a problem with the special rally lights on his Toyota Starlet that curtailed his progress during the closing stage of the day.
“A DNF and a fourth place were not what we were looking for,” said TGRSA NRC Team Manager, Guy Botterill, at the end of the opening day. “But we decided to pull out all the stops, and get both cars in perfect condition for Round 4.”
After a long night preparing the two locally built and developed cars, the team set about the business of winning Round 4 of the 2023 championship – a task they managed with aplomb. Van Wyk and co-driver, Nico Swartz, were on it from the get-go, winning all but two of the day’s six stages, on their way to a comprehensive overall victory.
They were kept honest throughout the day by teammates Mdakane and his co-driver, Kes Naidoo, who finished 2min 47.6sec adrift of the winners. This was Mdakane’s best result in his national rally career, and sealed a stunning 1-2 finish for the team.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results from Round 4,” said Botterill after the event. “Jono was seriously quick throughout the rally, and Mandla was very impressive, too. Considering his relative lack of seat time, it was a joy to watch him tackle some of the toughest rally stages in South Africa without flinching.”
The team’s solid results are certain to bolster Van Wyk’s championship aspirations, while also lifting Mdakane from the bottom of the log, after a tough start to his 2023 campaign. The next event on the NRC is the NTT Tzaneen Rally, which is set to take place over the final weekend of August..