Eston, Friday – Privateers Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo produced a major surprise when they upstaged the factory Toyota and Ford teams on the Production Vehicle prologue for the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, here today.
De Bruyn and Hugo (Micaren Excel Toyota Hilux) were late starters and after early results it was taken for granted that championship leaders Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst, in the factory Ford Racing Ranger, had won ahead of the Team Castrol Toyota Hilux works entries of Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy and reigning champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie. All that went out the window when de Bruyn and Hugo put together a sparkling performance that saw them finish 20 seconds ahead of the Ford crew.
Visser/Badenhorst were suddenly demoted to second place and the two Castrol Toyotas also slipped back a notch. It was a stunning result for de Bruyn and Hugo, but whether they can stay ahead of the factory cars in tomorrow’s racer is a moot point.
There were 21 seconds between the Micaren crew and Visser and Badenhorst with Vos and Howie a further 14 seconds adrift. With the Ford’s racing on home turf and the Castrol Toyota teams desperate for a win on a Toyota sponsored event, there is enormous pressure on the factory teams and the de Bruyn/Hugo result will have rattled a few cages.
The top five in the premier SP Class was rounded out by Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, with North West crew Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger (Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux) continuing their good start to the season with sixth place. Bertholdt and Rousseau are having their final outing in a Toyota Hilux before switching to a new V8 powered Nissan Navara.
Pretoria crew Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS BMW X3) and Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) completed the top eight. After disappointing starts to the season both crews will have their sights set on top five finishes.
Brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser) took a comfortable win in Class D ahead of championship leaders Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann (Trysome Toyota Hilux) who will be looking for their third win in a row. Third were former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in the LMC Land Rover.
There was also an upset in Class E where reigning champions Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens failed to see out the distance in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. They retired after nine wins in the last 10 events and honours went to Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers in the Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux.
Tomorrow’s race starts at 8:30am at race headquarters at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club, and public entrance to race headquarters and the designated service park is free of charge. There is free
entry into spectator viewing points along the route with all of these within 15 kilometres of race headquarters where spectator guides will be available.