By Robert Nkolo[Rob styles]
Despite missing on their Toyota Etios R4 which failed to cross from the port of Cotonou Benin to Abidjan Ivory coast, the Toyota Gazoo South Africa sponsored crew of Guy Botterill and navigator Simon Vacy-Lyle never thought of giving up during last weekend’s Rallye Bandama the first round of FIA-African Rally Championship [ARC].
The multi Ivorian champion Gary Chaynes came to the rescue of the Wildcat team and offered his Mitusubish evolution 9 on loan after learning how the Etios R4 failed to cross from Benin to Ivory Coast.
The South African crew did not get time to feel the car since it arrived in Yamoussoukro just hours to qualifying stage moment. Amazingly Guy Botterill and Co-driver Simon Vacy-Lyle made the 3rd fastest time on the qualifying stage only 6 seconds behind leader Gary Chaynes in the Mitsubishi evolution x.
Day two Saturday saw Guy retiring prematurely in stage 1 when the Mitsubishi Lancer evolution 9 lost power and stopped before the flying finish. But according to the new regulations of ARC, crews are allowed to restart the event with a minimum penalty of 7 minutes according to the fastest time made on day one.
The Wildcat team had no option but to restart “rally 2” on Sunday. Luckily the Mitsubishi lancer Evo 9 worked out well on day two and saw Guy beating Gary in the longest stage of 62km by 2 seconds.
By the end of the rally, Gary chaynes co-driven by Romain Comas had won the 46th edition of bandama rally making their 5th career win of Bandanna Rally, Mathonnet Sylvain/Zarour Nino and Frédéric Nobou/Coulibaly Daniel came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Botterill and Simon finished in a distant 14th and managed to scoop the maximum 30 ARC points after finishing on top of Farid Daniel/Estievenart Henri who settled for 15th.
Botterill now leads the ARC table with 30 points and Daniel Farid comes second at 24 points, they’re the only crews with eligible cars to have scored the African rally championship points in the just concluded Fia ARC -Season opener Badama Rally.
Moments of the event
The Ivorian champion 2019 crew of Tino Abondio and Miguel Lopes also lost the race on day one [Saturday] after breaking the radiator and still on day two the engine failed.
Driver Abondio spoke to HapaSport after the race, “I feel so bad that I have not completed rallye bandama 2020. I wanted to enjoy but the car has failed us, I really feel bad, and my season is over”, emotional Abondio said.
“I don’t know if I will do the rest of the season, but I would like to thank my fans, mechanics and all Ivory Coast fraternity for the support, much appreciated your love” added Abondio.
The daughter of late legendary Morifere Soumaoro Aissata Soumaoro co-driven Mollon Elodie in the Peugeot 206 couldn’t hide her joy after finishing her first competitive event. The foul’gaselles finished 18th overall.
The next African rally championship round will head to Zambia since South Africa pulled out due to financial constraints.