The Bronx Rally, Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2023 South African National Rally Championship (NRC) brought mixed results for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA). Mandla Mdakane and co-driver, Kes Naidoo, clearly hit their rally stride, as they recorded two consecutive Top 5 finishes. But technical niggles side-lined Jono van Wyk and his co-driver, Nico Swartz, causing two DNF results in as many starts.

For Van Wyk/Swartz, the Bronx Rally, which took place in the area surrounding the Gauteng town of Bronkhorstspruit, brought disappointment. The ‘Swazi Cowboy’ and his experienced co-driver have shown good pace throughout the season, but a variety of challenges with their South African-built and developed Toyota Starlet rally car, have pushed them down the championship order.

The Bronx Rally marked a first foray for the team, using in-house engines, rather than power plants supplied by a third party. While the engines themselves performed beyond expectation, a problem with the cooling package on Van Wyk’s car resulted in a melted alternator cable , bringing the Swazi Cowboy’s charge to an early halt.

Over in the Mdakane camp, the alternative cooling package employed in his Toyota Starlet performed as expected. The Johannesburg-based racer made the most of his steed to record a fourth-place finish on Friday, which served as Round 7 of the championship. He followed this up with a fifth place on Saturday during Round 8, which pushed the crew up to third place in the championship standings.

The final event of the 2023 NRC season is the TRAC Rally, which will take place in the Mpumalanga town of Dullstroom, on 17-18 November, 2023. While overall championship glory may be beyond Mdakane’s reach, a solid performance at the final event may just hand him second place in the title fight – an admirable target, considering his relative rookie status in the sport.

“The Bronx Rally was a tough one for the team,” said TGRSA NRC Team Manager, Guy Botterill, after the event. “We had some great moments, but were ultimately disappointed that Jono and Nico didn’t score any points. With that said, Mandla and Kes did a great job, and we are encouraged by their results.”