National Championship Rallying returns to Eastern Cape

With the dust hardly settled from the thrilling season opening Billy te Water Memorial Secunda Rally, the South African National Rally Championship action now moves to the Eastern Cape and the Longmore Forest for the Algoa National Rally. The tough double-header rally will test crews to the limit over the weekend of 7 and 8 July.

Those first two rounds of the 2023 championship saw high speeds and exceptionally close times between the top three over both days. The Algoa Rally’s Eastern Cape forest stages however bring a different kind of challenge. “I love rallying in the forests,” championship leader JJ Potgieter admits. “The only problem is so far in my career; I have never finished a rally in Longmore Forest! I am however really looking forward to this one.”

“This will also be my first time in Longmore in the R4 Hyundai, which is much quicker than my previous car, so it will be a huge test made a little more difficult because we have to run on Dunlop tyres for this event, which are a slightly softer compound than the MRF tyres that we normally use.”

Log leader Potgieter starts as a favourite to spray the winner’s champagne come Friday and Saturday evening. His biggest challenge for that honour should come from NRC1 rivals, reigning champion Chris Coertse’s Rally Technik Mazda2, 2021 champion Theuns Joubert’s Salom Toyota Yaris and Gazoo Toyota Starlet duo, Jono van Wyk and Mandla Mdkane.

Benjamin Habig’s Just Tools Volkswagen Polo is the car to beat in R2 NRC2. He will have Gerald Klopper’s Toyota Etios, Magriet and Gustav Potgieter’s Ford Fiestas, and George Smalberger’s Shield VW Polo among his adversaries. The National Championship event will be supported by a strong of 30-car Algoa Rally Club Championship field. Organisers expect a minimum of 40 cars to make the start.

The Algoa Rally starts 11h30 on Friday 7th July, with the local Traffic Department leading a motorcade through Jeffreys Bay to Mentors Country Lodge. Stage action kicks off with the spectator friendly Mentors rugby field stage at 12h00. Crews then head to the daunting Longmore Forest that will as ever challenge the brave with high speeds, sheer drops, and a hard, loose surface.

Four gravel stages will offer great viewing in close proximity for spectator convenience. Organisers have thrown in some curve balls for the National competitors this year. First off, the Culturama stage will run at night. That’s one not to be missed!  Full rally lights are required for Friday’s final stage, which will once again be a short Mentors gravel sprint.

Day 2 is a completely new event on Saturday 8 July. That allows crews who may have hit trouble on Friday, to start without any penalty on Saturday. Kicking off with a Mentors Country Lodge stage a 08:00, four more special tests follow in the Longmore Forests.

The organisers’ second surprise is to extend Saturday’s infamous penultimate Culturama stage to a whopping 37km monster. Culturama will likely determine the winners for each day. The Algo Rally concludes with the final Mentors Kraal stage at 16h20 followed by the winners’ ceremonial champagne finish at 17h00.

Spectators can find more info on stage times and best viewing opportunities via the ‘Algoa Rally Club’ Facebook page.

William Louw
S.A National Rally Administrator
011 848 3960

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