The two opening rounds of the 2021 South African National Rally Championship (NRC) are due to take place this weekend, and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle will be starting the defence of the title they won in 2020.

“The year has already been very exciting, starting with an outing in the Class FIA Toyota Hilux, as part of the South African Cross-Country Series,” says Botterill. “But now it is time to get back to the rally championship, and we’re excited to get our season underway.”

With that said, the team will be starting the year somewhat on the back foot, as their Class R4 Toyota Etios has already been shipped abroad, in anticipation of the African Rally Championship (ARC). As such, they will be competing in the NTT Toyota Delmas Rally, rounds one and two of the NRC, in a Class S2000 Toyota Auris – a car that has been in storage for quite some time.

“The championship rules now allow competitors to score points towards the overall championship, even when driving the older Class S2000 cars. This means we can fight battles on two fronts, with the R4 abroad and the Auris in action locally,” explains Botterill.

This means that the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA crew will be taking on some of the faster, more modern cars that also compete in the championship. At the same time, the Auris has seen a fair amount of action in its day, and may not offer the same levels of reliability as the newer cars.

“Despite these challenges, we are aiming for a good result in Delmas,” concluded Botterill. “We’ve done well there historically, and we hope to continue the championship where we left off in 2020.”

The NTT Toyota Delmas Rally will feature six stages on Friday, April 9th. These stages will offer a total of 95km of special stage rallying, as Round 1 of the 2021 championship. Six more stages follow on Saturday, April 10th, with 90km of rallying for Round 2 of the championship.

As with all motorsport events in South Africa, the rally will take place with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.