Local motorsport fanatics will be ecstatic to hear that the organisers of the 2022 NTT Tzaneen National Rally motorsport event are currently hard at work planning for this national motorsports event. The event is set to take place over one of the weekends in August.

After years of absence from the National Rally Championship calendar, Limpopo and in particular Tzaneen is back on the map. Far North Bulletin’s Wheels & Deals team had a chat with rally director Theuns Viljoen and the rally’s secretary, Evan Saayman, who is a new vehicle and Hino sales executive at NTT Toyota Tzaneen.

“Because the event will be hosted in Tzaneen and surrounding areas, we would really like to involve the community. We are planning to host promotions where people stand a chance to win sponsored prizes prior to the rally,” said Viljoen.

“The Tzaneen Show Terrain will be the central point for the crews to service their vehicles during the rally, which means over the two days the cars will be entering and leaving town all the time which will be great for the spectators,” said Saayman.

With the Tzaneen Show Terrain as the central service point throughout the rally, Viljoen and Saayman plan to invite local informal traders like Riana de Wet from Riana’s Pancake Den, Letaba Rugby Club with its established Bosbok Bar and catering facility, will also be involved to further help create a festive atmosphere.

Saayman is in talks with Toyota South Africa who have agreed to make a range of its exciting Toyota GR (Gazoo Racing) models like the latest hot hatch, the GR Yaris, available for demonstration over the two days. Some of these GR high performance models are rare finds.

The popular Tzaneen Dam and Canal stages will be included in the rally and there are a couple of exciting routes planned for the Agatha stages. It seems the daunting ‘mineshaft’ stage in the area of the shooting range will also be included.

The organisers plan to bring the action closer to the people, with two stages planned to run in town. The one stage planned for the evening, might be unique to the rally championship. The organisers are looking at the possibility of hosting the stage with the vehicles racing through the NTT Toyota Tzaneen workshop.

Not only will this idea bring another form of excitement to the event, but the ambient sound of the cars thundering through a mechanical workshop would be music to the ears of any motorsport enthusiast.

The other stage planned for Tzaneen will be held around the area of the Star Spars, NTT Tzaneen Toyota and Tzaneen Show Terrain.
So, what can local residents expect when the rally circus arrives later in August?

The 2022 South African Rally Championship crews will be running on MRF Motorsport Tyres and is officially known as the MRF Motorsport National Rally Championship.

The season might have experienced a delayed start with the original opening round, the NTT Toyota Rally, postponed to September due to flooding in Delmas. But it was all action as the sport’s national stage returned to the Western Cape for the first time since lockdown.

To start the most exciting rally season in years, the Cape Overberg Rally comprised the opening two rounds of the 2022 championship. But there’s far more to it, with 25 entries in for the opening round, new machinery for former champions and the champion driver and navigator up against each other as the sport enters a new era.

The 2021 SA Rally Driver’s Champion, Theuns Joubert, now has the hugely experienced Schalk van Heerden reading his notes in the NRC1 Salom Arbeid Toyota Yaris. The reigning 2021 SA Rally Co-Driver’s Champion, Greg Godrich, continues alongside Chris Coertse in the Rally Technic Hyundai I20 R4 NRC1. This should, on its own, make for an interesting tussle.

But there’s another novelty waiting in the wings.

Former champions Guy Botteril and Simon Vacy-Lyle competed in the opening two rounds in their brand new two-litre turbo NRC 1 Toyota Gazoo Racing Starlet. This new machine is expected to see its intrepid driver and navigator straight back into the sharp end of the field following an interim season last year.

New rally cars are notorious for early career reliability, but Botteril and Lyle have been testing in secret, so expect them to be quick out of the blocks.

Other NRC 1 crews include Johan Strauss and Elzaan Venter’s Subaru Impreza, Wilro Dippenaar and veteran navigatrix Carolyn Swan’s PZN Toyota Auris, and Anton Raaths and Louis Menge’s Ford Cosworth.

The NRC 2 entries may be thin on the ground in the Cape. The NRC 2 field however is expected to swell by another seven vehicles at least for the second round of the MRF Tyres SA Rally National in Secunda.