In an exciting start to the 2024 South African National Rally Championship, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Mandla Mdakane and Kes Naidoo clinched third place overall in the first round. The duo, driving the Rally Toyota Starlet, showcased remarkable consistency, navigating the challenging terrains around Malmesbury, Swartland on Friday, April 12. Their solid performance was a bright spot for the team.

However, the event was not without its disappointments for the team. Jono van Wyk and his co-driver Nico Swartz, also representing TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA, faced an unexpected setback. After maintaining a strong pace throughout the race, a steering system failure just 200 meters from the finish line dashed their hopes of a strong finish. The steering rack malfunction, caused by an unidentified impact at the Killarney Race Circuit during the day’s final stage, resulted in significant damage, forcing them to retire prematurely.

Team Rally Manager Guy Botterill shared the frustration, noting the crew’s frantic efforts to repair the damage during a critical 30-minute post-rally service window. Unfortunately, the repairs were not completed in time, relegating Van Wyk and Swartz to mere spectators for the second round of the championship the following day.

On Saturday, April 13, Mdakane and Naidoo continued their strong form, running second overall before a suspension issue during the final stage forced them to retire. Looking ahead, the team is focused on overcoming these mechanical challenges in the upcoming Secunda Rally, scheduled for May 31 and June 1, 2024, which will mark the third and fourth rounds of the championship. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA hopes to leverage their experiences from the opening rounds to achieve better outcomes in the future races.