Zimbabwe: Conrad Chases Historic Double

Published by the government of Zimbabwe

Collin Matiza

21 October 2011

Polokwane, South Africa — ZIMBABWEAN motor rallying champion driver Conrad Rautenbach will be out to score a historic double when he tackles the inaugural Polokwane Rally which starts here tomorrow morning.

The Polokwane Rally is the grand finale of the eight-event 2011 South African Rally Championship series in which Rautenbach raised the Zimbabwean flag with distinction during the tough competition which started in March. And all eyes in this weekend’s two-day Polokwane Rally will be on Rautenbach who heads into this event after having already taken care of the 2011 FIA African Rally Championship in which he emerged as the overall winner of the Drivers’ crown.

Rautenbach has now won the African title twice after having lifted it for the first time in 2007 before he spent two seasons competing in the Junior World Championship series overseas under Citroen.

In fact, Rautenbach was crowned the 2011 African motor rally champion with one round to spare and will be out to score a double this year when he competes in the Polokwane Rally this weekend.

The talented 27-year-old Zimbabwean driver needs nothing short of victory in this weekend’s event inorder for him to be crowned as the king of the 2011 South African Rally Championship.

And this will see him becoming the first Zimbabwean motor rally driver to lift the South African title.

Rautenbach chalked up three wins during the first seven rounds of the tough South African Rally Championship series to take pole position in the competition with 125 points.

And an outright victory in the Polokwane Rally will hand him the championship title, snatching it from the noses of three top South African drivers who are also taking an aim at it during this weekend’s event in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

In fact, the Polokwane Rally brings down the curtain on one of the closest-fought South African rally championships in many years.

After seven rounds four drivers and three navigators, all competing in the top Super 2000 class for all-wheel drive two-litre cars, have a mathematical chance of winning their respective championships.

With 25 points at stake for a win and competitors having to drop their worst score of the season, there are several permutations for the final outcome. Rautenbach, who has done tremendously well in this year’s competition in his ethanol powered Green Fuel Ford Fiesta, leads the Drivers’ championship with 125 points from the seven rallies run so far, without deducting his worst score, and enjoys a nine-point lead over the similar Fiesta of Mark Cronje and defending champion Enzo Kuun (Volkswagen Polo). Johnny Gemmell (Toyota Auris) is fourth, 23 points behind Rautenbach.

Rautenbach and Cronje have won three rallies each while Kuun, with one second and three third places, and Gemmell, with three seconds and a third, have yet to win this year.

And now the battle lines have been drawn for these four drivers in the Polokwane Rally which has created a lot of interest here in Polokwane ahead of what promises to be two days of high octane driving.

It’s no secret that Rautenbach knows what is at stake in this event and any slip-up in any of the 16-stage event might see him heading home empty-handed after having been in dominant form during this year’s

South African Rally Championship series.

Rautenbach recently told The Herald that he will be under pressure going into this weekend’s event but was convinced that he would handle it (the pressure) and emerge triumphant, come the business end of the competition on Sunday afternoon.

Ably supported by his hard working Green Fuel Team, Rautenbach also comes into this weekend’s event oozing with confidence after he swept to victory in the penultimate round of the series - Toyota Cape Dealer Rally - towards the end of last month.

But Rautenbach and his French co-driver Nicolas Klinger will have to be on top of their game, because there are at least three other rivals capable of winning the final rally of the season.

The rally will start and finish on each of the two days at the Polokwane Police Club opposite the Peter Mokaba Stadium, which will also serve as rally headquarters and the media centre. The first car will be flagged away at 7am tomorrow and the day’s action will be over nine stages covering 127km. The first car is due to finish at around 4pm. Sunday’s restart will be at 6am and the shorter final day will finish at about 11am after seven stages covering 77.30km.

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