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Following the announcement this week of the findings of a Motorsport South Africa court of enquiry into the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally in June, which has resulted in the exclusion from the results of Castrol Team Toyota’s Johnny Gemmell and Drew Sturrock in a Toyota Auris, Toyota has given notice of its intention to appeal the findings.
During the event, Gemmell, who was running second on the road behind championship leader Conrad Rautenbach, walked part of the first special stage, together with Rautenbach after obtaining permission from a marshal, before driving the stage.
Initially, the clerk of the course excluded the two drivers from the event for infringing a rule that prohibits reconnoitring the route, but this decision was later overturned by the MSA-appointed steward of the event, who determined that the circumstances of the incident did not warrant exclusion.
“The court of enquiry appears to have completely ignored the MSA steward’s ruling in this instance,” said Toyota’s team principal Glyn Hall. “We don’t believe the court of inquiry gave sufficient consideration to the circumstances surrounding this incident and consequently we will be seeking to take the matter to the next level, namely the MSA National Court of Appeal.
“The court of inquiry’s decision has potentially damaging consequences for Johnny’s and Drew’s – and Toyota’s – national championship title aspirations as it has demoted them from leading the championship after five of the eight rounds to lying fourth.
“Johnny is currently 13 points behind the leader of the drivers’ championship according to MSA, while he could have been leading by a possible 15 points – and this would have made a significant difference to the way we approached the remaining three rounds. Drew is seven points in arrears of the leader of the co-drivers’ championship and could have been well in front.”
Gemmell and Scottish co-driver Sturrock actually completed the Toyota Dealer Gauteng Rally in second place and would normally have scored 21 points for their efforts. Following a second place and a third place in the two preceding rounds, the pair would have led the respective drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships going into round six, the Garden Route Rally in George and Knysna on August 26 and 27.