SA rally drivers for Toyota Challenge

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Top South African motor rally driver Pieter Pilusa and Don Smith from Kenya yesterday became the latest foreign drivers to arrive to compete in the 2012 Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally.

More entries for the rally, which revs off from March 16 to 18 in the capital, were expected yesterday ahead of tonight’s deadline.

The Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally, the country’s premier motorsport event is this year’s opening round of the eight-legged 2012 FIA African Rally Championship series.

Pilusa, who won the S20 class of the MTN Polokwane Rally last year, entered to compete in this year’s rally in a Nissan 140 GX and will be co-driven by top local navigator George Chitepo.

Smith, a regular competitor in the Kenya Safari Rally, also entered yesterday and will be piloting a Subaru Impreza, co-driven by compatriot Sony Smith.

The entry of the duo yesterday, brought the number of foreign entries to five.

The secretary of the organising committee, Lisa Upton, said they were expecting more entries starting from last night ahead of the deadline tonight.

“We received two more entries in Don Smith from Kenya and Pieter Pilusa from South Africa, to take the number of foreign entries to five and 12 in total including local drivers.

“We usually get more entries on the final day and by the time the entries are closed we should have about 17 to 18 entries. In terms of preparations, everything is well on course and it promises to be an exciting event for all motor rally fans,” said Upton.

Some of the foreign participants who have entered the event include Rwanda’s Giancarlo Davite (Subaru Impreza), Jas Mangat of Uganda (Subaru Impreza) and Mohammed Essa from Zambia (Subaru Impreza).

Local drivers, who have dominated the event in recent years, currently have the highest number of participants as sevens drivers have confirmed participation.

Former African champion Jamie Whyte, who won the 2010 event, leads the local contingent in his Subaru Impreza and will be co-driven by Gareth Dawe.

South Africa-based Zimbabwean driver Robson Maganezi will also compete this year, co-driven by South African Stassen Dannie also in a Subaru Impreza.

One of the country’s top female drivers Michelle Yorke will be co-driven by Stephen Murton in a Mitsubishi Evo.

Former champion Chase Attwell, who won the event in 2009, takes part at the wheel of a Toyota Auris while Jess Watson (Mitsubishi Lancer), Carr Tyrone (Toyota Corolla) and Craig Green (Mitsubishi Evo 8) complete the local contingent.