Young Guns exit cross country Ranger (stage left), enter rally Fiesta (stage right)


May has been a crazy month for the ATS Motorsport Young Guns and Richard Leeke and Henry Kohne head to Secunda for the third round of the national rally championship virtually straight from the second round of the national cross country series.

A little weary they may be, but they’re buoyed too: in their off-road Ranger they took a maiden class S win, in only their second outing, after retiring from the opening round.

The rally is going to be different though, and not only because they’re heading from a four-wheel-drive bakkie to a front-drive Fiesta hatchback. Here they’ll also be vying for overall victory.

Proceedings get underway at 15h30 on Friday May 19 from Tri-Sec Autohaus, the local Volkswagen dealership.

They tasted champagne on the opening round (in KZN, where they finished second) but the York Rally in Mpumalanga was spoiled by a – relatively – low speed roll over. Despite the damage, which included the absence of a windscreen, the two soldiered on and finished sixth in class, to add five valuable points to their KZN haul.

As a result they currently lie third in the S1600 class, just one point behind the similar Fiesta of Jono van Wyk and Scott Howden. Leading the South African National Rally Championship overall are Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-lyle in a Toyota Etios.

“Our partners, and in particular our body repair partner, North City Partners, have been hard at work to get the car back in shape,” said Leeke. “We’ve also used the opportunity to make some set-up changes which should translate into improved stage times. We’ll see on Thursday during the shake-down, as we haven’t had a chance to test due to time constraints – but our technical gurus are confident that it’ll be a step in the right direction.”

. The event includes tarmac night stages at the Graceland Casino, which brings Friday’s proceedings to a close. Saturday starts with a gravel Superspecial in which cars run in pairs, which always makes for a nail-biting spectacle.

Thirteen timed stages comprising about 150 racing kilometres make up the event and includes two long stages of 28.3 kilometres each – these will no doubt be deciding factors. The final stage is expected to take place at about 3 pm on Saturday, on the banks of Lake Umuzi.