Following their emphatic 1-2 in the recent Sun City 400 in North West Province six weeks ago – where championship leaders Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy recorded their third successive victory in the Castrol Team Toyota Hilux – Toyota Motorsport South Africa will be looking to press home the advantage in the all-new Vryburg 400, round six of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in North West Province this weekend.
With three rounds remaining Taylor and Murphy enjoy a 10-point lead over past champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, who have one win to their credit to date. Castrol Toyota team-mates and reigning champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie are third in the second SP class Toyota Hilux with 73 points, 27.5 behind Visser/Badenhorst.
Taylor and Murphy are looking for their first championship title and have shown ominous form throughout the season. Vos with five championships and Howie with one have been playing an important supporting role to their team-mates. Both crews boast a 100 percent finishing record to date as the Toyota Hilux has demonstrated its superiority over the opposition.
“We have enjoyed a good run with the Hilux this season,” acknowledged team principal Glyn Hall. “Our development programme is showing the results we are looking for and both drivers are happy with the vehicle. We’ve made a few improvements for this race based on what we learnt during our pre-Dakar testing in the Namib Desert in early August.”
Toyota Motorsport has entered a third Hilux for Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee, which will be competing unofficially in Imperial Toyota colours and will not be scoring points. It is the upgraded version of the same Imperial Toyota Hilux in which Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz finished second in the Dakar Rally in South America in January.
Because it features independent rear suspension it does not meet the national championship regulations and will therefore run ahead of the field on Friday and Saturday and will not feature in the official results.
“We have entered Leeroy to give him some seat time in the Dakar bakkie in preparation for his debut alongside Giniel in the Dakar in January,” said Hall. “It will also be an ideal test over 450 kilometres under race conditions of engine and suspension changes we’ve made as a result of our test programme in Namibia and a chance for Leeroy to get in some practice.”
Poulter and Coetzee, more accustomed to competing in the national rally championship in a Castrol Toyota Yaris S2000 four-wheel drive car, made an impressive cross country debut together in a third SA-spec Castrol Hilux in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana in June, winning the prologue from the back of the field and leading the race until side-lined by electrical problems.
The Vryburg 400 is an all-new event on the calendar and represents a return to an area which hosted the original Toyota Desert Race before it relocated to Botswana. Race headquarters and the designated service park will be located at the Vryburg Motor Club with free public entry into these areas and spectator points along the route. The 60-kilometre qualifying event to determine the race start order will get underway at 12.00 on Friday with the main race over two loops of 170 kilometres starting at 08.30 on Saturday.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.