The Ford rally roadshow rolled on relentlessly in Mpumalanga this weekend as reigning SA champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton brought thier Ford Dealer Team Ford Fiesta S2000 home in first place in an extremely wet and muddy Sasol Rally for the second year in succession.
In the process the pair increased their lead in the 2013 championship after their victory in the season-opening Total Rally in KwaZulu-Natal in March.
Second after 13 special stages, former British World Rally Championship contenders Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson revelled in the rain and mist that challenged the 44-car field throughout the rally. Driving a second Ford Dealer team Fiesta borrowed from Cronje, Wilson, from England, and Northern Ireland’s Patterson had led the rally after Friday’s five gravel and two tarmac stages – all of which were won by the two Fords.
Cronje and Houghton added five stage wins to their tally on Saturday, securing victory by 1 min 11 sec over Wilson and Patterson. Making up the top 10 were Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) in a similar Ford Fiesta S2000. The pairing finished the event in a creditable sixth place.
Elsewhere in the S1600 category, Ashley Haigh-Smith and Craig Parry (Castrol Ford Fiesta R2B) had led the class behind the wheel of their Ford Fiesta. Unfortunately, the duo fell back to sixth with two stages remaining after experiencing problems.
The next round of the championship is the Toyota Gauteng Dealer Rally on May 31 and June 1.