2015 Donaldson South African Cross Country Champion, South African Rally Championship runner-up and the man who finished fifth in the 2016 Dakar, Leeroy Poulter has been voted the 2015 Bridgestone SA / South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year.
Leeroy who dominated the SA Cross Country championship with a clean sweep of seven wins in seven race starts, fought to the end to repeat his 2015 SA rally championship victory and impressed immensely at the Dakar, was thankful to his team on accepting the award at a function in Kyalami on Wednesday evening.
“I was fortunate to have a very strong season with Toyota and Hallspeed this past year,” Leeroy admitted. “Although narrowly missing a win in the Rally Championship we managed to secure the Cross Country title and finished 5th overall in my third Dakar. “I’d like to commend Glyn Hall and his team on all their efforts and thanks to them and Toyota South Africa for always believing in me.”
A true all-rounder in the classic South African motor sportsman sense, Poulter made a name for himself by winning five SA motocross titles before moving to karting, where he has remained competitive and won numerous regional, national and even world championships. Today Poulter still runs a leading kart team and occasionally competes too.
Leeroy then stepped up to circuit racing in tandem with his karting, where he won several SA class and overall Production Car Group N championships before switching to rallying where he caused a sensation by winning his class in his first season on the stages. Leeroy was then drafted into the Toyota rally and Cross Country teams where he has since won the 2014 SA rally championship and SA 2015 Cross Country title, topping that off with that splendid fifth overall in this year’s Dakar.
The SA Guild of Motorsport Journalists every year nominates the best performers from the cream of the past year’s South African motorsport crop and this year eleven of SA’s finest were nominated. Guild members then voted for their chosen nominee and the racer with the most votes is awarded the Motor Sportsman of the Year floating trophy.
Poulter was one of eleven 2015 Bridgestone SA / SAGMJ Motor Sportsman of the Year nominees to receive a citation Wednesday evening alongside rally rival and SA champion, Mark Cronje, rally and Dakar teammate, Giniel de Villiers and 6-time SA Special Vehicle Cross Country champion, Evan Hutchinson. Multiple S A quad champion, Brian Baragwanath was nominated for his Dakar podium, while two wheelers, Brad Binder was recognised for his Moto3 efforts and Wade Young for his international hard enduro successes.
International GT racers, David Perel was nominated for is second place in the Italian GT Cup and Jordan Pepper for winning in the ADAC German GT Cup while saloon car racers, Jeffrey Kruger was acknowledged for winning the European VW Golf Cup and Sheldon van der Linde for his achievement of winning two SA VW Polo Cup titles at the tender age of 16.
Des Gutzeit takes Colin Watling award
Motor Sportsman extraordinaire and founder of Port Shepstone’s Dezzi Raceway, Desmond Gutzeit has won the Colin Watling Award at the Bridgestone SA / South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year competition. Gutzeit was recognised for his off-track contributions to South African motorsport in establishing a permanent facility in Dezzi and return circuit racing to KwaZulu Natal for the first time in 40 years.
A delighted Gutzeit, who received the award at a function, well attended by the who’s who of motorsport and motoring media in South Africa at Kyalami Wednesday evening, was surprised at his honour. “I am humbled by this award and flattered and delighted by the recognition of our family’s contribution to motorsport through Dezzi Raceway,” Gutzeit admitted.
“Every Nominee was a likely winner this year and to be honest I was least expecting to win the Colin Watling award — it’s a real honour and I would like to thank Bridgestone SA and the Guild for this recognition.”
Gutzeit, who will travel to Knysna in May to defend his King of the Hill status at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb is also a regular racer and both his sons also compete regularly on two and four wheels. The family has developed Dezzi Raceway on its South Coast property over the past few years and the circuit last year hosted national, regional and endurance races at the facility on top of the facility being a national drifting championship over the past few years.
Gutzeit was one of six nominees for this year’s Colin Watling Award alongside fellow circuit owner, Mr. Zwartkops, Peter du Toit, Zwartkops and SA Rotax Max karting scion, Ed Murray, Toyota Motorsport boss and rally and Dakar manager, Glyn Hall, SA Cross Country Racing Commission President, Richard Schilling, and the man behind the Jaguar Simola Knysna Hillclimb, Ian Shrosbree.