Crowds cheer rally restart

A huge crowd lined the streets of Nelspruit for the restart of the Sasol Rally on Saturday morning.

Day two of the event got off to a speedy start with two short special stages.

After the first two special stages of the day's final eight stages of the 21st Sasol Rally in Mpumalanga, Johnny Gemmell and Carolyn Swan (Castrol Toyota Auris) led by 13.5 seconds from day one pace-setters Mark Cronjé and Robin Houghton (Sasol Ford Fiesta) and 38.8 seconds from third-placed Hans Weis and Bjorn Degandt (BP Volkswagen Polo).

Cronjé, running first on the road ahead of overnight leader Gemmell, picked up a 20-second penalty at the end of day one after clocking in late at the final control. He damaged the sub frame of the Sasol Ford Fiesta earlier on Saturday and it finally broke on the final tarmac night stage in White River.

Saturday's opening stage was a 1.4 kilometre tarmac Super Special in Nelspruit which thrilled thousands of Mpumalanga fans as the cars raced two at a time, side by side.

Gemmell won the first stage with team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee in the second Castrol Toyota Auris taking the honours in the second special stage, a short gravel test around the Mbombela Stadium.

Fourth after Saturday's two stages were Jan Habig and Robert Paisley (Basil Read Ford Fiesta) 1min 20.9 seconds behind, followed by Jon Williams and Cobus Vrey (Sasol Ford Fiesta) +2.08.3 and Japie van Niekerk and Gerhard Snyman 2 min 22.6 in arrears.

Rounding out the top ten were Gugu Zulu and Carl Peskin (BP Volkswagen Polo) currently seventh overall and leading the S2000 Challenge for the earlier S2000 four-wheel-drive cars +2 min 47.7 seconds, the Total Toyota Auris of Jean-Pierre Damseaux and Grant Martin +2 min 59.8 sec, Hergen Fekken Pierre Arries (BP Volkswagen Polo) +3min 26.2 seconds, and 10th (second in Class S2000 Challenge) were Henk Lategan / Barry White (Q8 VW Polo).

Ashley Haigh-Smith/Craig Parry (Castrol Ford Fiesta) continued to lead the two-wheel-drive S1600 class ahead of Guy Botterill / Simon Vacy-Lyle (Yato Toyota RunX) and Craig Trott / Robbie Coetzee Total Toyota RunX.

Nic van der Westhuizen and Henry Dearlove (SA Earthworks Ford Fiesta), who were third in class at the start of the first day, retired on special stage seven in Nelspruit with a broken oil cooler.