By “The Rally Guy”
The multiple South-African rally champions Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle were ready and all systems go for the 2021 FIA ARC Equator Rally. As the front runner in the 2021 FIA ARC championship at the start of the event in Naivasha, Kenya, all eye’s were firmly set on the duo in their Wildcat Racing Toyota Etios Rally 2 Kit car.
The event started with a very wet first stage namely Elmenteita, a 14.67km stage. Botterill managed a 5th position after stage 1 with Carl Tundo and Tim Jessop from Kenya in their Minti Motorsport R5 Volkswagen Polo walking away with the honours.
Botterill attacked the 23.33km stage 2 ,Soysambu with vigour and dedication, finishing 3rd after Carl Tundo and Tim Jessop in the first place and Onkar Rai and Drew Sturrock in their Kabras Sugar Racing Volkswagen Polo R5.
After a visit to the remote refuelling, it was time to declare war on SS3, the longest stage of the day with a gruelling 30.98 km Sleeping Warrior. It was all systems go for the first 5 kilometres of the stage when disaster struck. The Etios ingested a lot of water into the engine and severely hampering the performance of the car. The team lost 11 minutes and finished in 17th position. Limping back to the service park on 3 cylinders for some much-needed repair work.
Botterill and Vacy-Lyle returned for the start of SS 4, a repeat of SS 1 Elmenteita and all “Hell broke” loose.
Botterill and Vacy-Lyle returned for the start of SS 4, a repeat of SS 1 Elmenteita and all “Hell broke” loose. In true South-African style, the team fought their way back into the 3rd position at the end. They remained in 3rd positions from stage 4 through to 6, managing to finish 3rd overall after leg 1 of the event.
The standings after day 1 saw Carl Tundo and Tjveer Raj from Kenya in respectively 1st and 2nd place. Day 2 of the event would be run over 5 stages. Stage 7 and 10, Malewa, 9.71 km’s with Stage 8 and 11, Loldia 11.33 km’s being the shorter stages. SS 9, Kedong being a demanding 32.68 km’s would be a big decider on who would reach the finish line.
The Wildcat racing team managed the 3rd position after stage 7, with Carl Tundo and Onkar Raj ahead of them. Stage 8 would be a different story. Botterill managed 2nd place in stage 8, behind Tundo in first and ahead of Baldev Chager in 3rd place. As predicted, stage 9 took its toll on many competitors and Botterill did not escape unscaved. The team encountered clutch problems and still managed a 5th overall position
Despite the great fighting spirit of the South Africans, they were time-barred after clocking out of service, incurring a 2-minute penalty. This accumulated to 32 minutes lateness which automatically time bar’s a competitor from the event, as a maximum of 30 minutes lateness is allowed.
In the end a very dissapointing result for the team from South-Africa, but all is not lost. They may have lost this battle but not the war. Botterill and Vacy-Lyle were the leaders in the ARC Championship going into the event, having carried over 30 points from the 2020 ARC Rally Bandama , Ivory Coast. Boterill and Tundo are now jointly in 1st place in the ARC standings.
Next up is the 2021 Rally of Tanzania, let’s see what happens. You boys are Heroes and I for one commend you on your incredible fighting spirit.