The penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Car Championship, the Human Auto 400 in the Bloemfontein area on Friday and Saturday (October 14 and 15), sees both the two Castrol Team Toyota Hilux Double Cabs among the leading contenders for the championship as well as for the weekend’s win.
Toyota’s Duncan Vos, seeking his fifth drivers’ title, and co-driver Rob Howie have already won twice this year (they are the only two-time winners) and are currently joint second on 67 points with Terence Marsh and George Smalberger (Nissan), 15,5 points behind leaders Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Nissan).
Although circuit racing champion Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin in the second Castrol Toyota are seventh on 51,5 points, they are not out of it as there are a maximum of 50 points on offer in the last two rounds. Mathematically, any one of the top 11 in the points can take the title, but realistically it’s between the top seven.
Taylor and Birkin have been the pace setters this season, but are surprisingly still without a win in their first season together. They have won the Friday Donaldson prologue, which determines the start order for Saturday’s race, three times in the last four events and have two second place finishes to their credit. They were runners-up to team-mates Vos and Howie on the Atlas Copco 400 in May and then again in the 1 000-km Toyota Desert Race in Botswana in June, when they broke down 17 km from the finish while leading.
Toyota will also be looking to strengthen what looks like a championship-winning lead in the manufacturers’ competition. They currently enjoy a 227-point advantage over Nissan with Ford a distant 342 points in arrears.
In the week preceding the event, it was announced at the Johannesburg International Motor Show that Toyota Motorsport’s two Hilux Double cabs will be competing in the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America in January as the Imperial Toyota South Africa Team with additional backing from Duxbury Netgear and the Innovation Group and managed by Glyn Hall.
Vos and Howie will be driving one vehicle while the other will be in the hands of 2009 Dakar winner and former national off road champion Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz.
“While our primary focus is on winning the Absa championship, these last two rounds provide us with a great opportunity to prepare ourselves and the two vehicles for the Dakar,” said Hall.
“We’ll be trying out some new parts for the Dakar on Anthony’s racing Hilux this weekend, including a rear-mounted radiator which we will be trying out for the first time together with some other parts. Cooling is extremely important on the Dakar with temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius in some of the very big sand dunes. The engineering team has designed a radiator masterpiece utilizing two production Toyota radiator cores, and we will be monitoring its performance carefully.
“Duncan’s Hilux will sport a third generation level suspension set up for this race featuring some of the developments we have made during testing. He will also have a new engine for this weekend’s race. This engine will also be used by him during the Dakar, and should be nicely run in by the time the great race starts.
The Human Auto 400 will be based at the General De Wet Rifle Range within the De Brug military base outside Bloemfontein. The action gets underway at 12.30 on Friday with the 60-km Donaldson Prologue and Saturday’s race, which consists of two loops of 180 km each with a compulsory service stop in between, will start at 08.30.
Toyota Motorsport Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota Motorsport enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.