FACTORY TEAMS SLUG IT OUT ON SUN CITY 400
Sun City, Friday – The Team Castrol Toyota and Ford Racing factory teams slugged it out today on the qualifying race to determined grid positions for tomorrow’s Sun City 400, round five of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, with the Toyota squad ending the day slightly ahead on points.
Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy and Duncan Vos/Rob Howie, with both crews in Castrol Toyota Hilux entries, ended the day ahead of Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable in Ford Rangers with a minute and 32 seconds separating the quartet. Going into tomorrow’s race Taylor and Murphy, who won the recent Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, and Visser/Badenhorst are locked together at the head of the Production Vehicle and premier SP Class championships.
On a fast and open route Taylor and Murphy finished 28 seconds ahead of Vos and Howie who are the reigning South African champions. Former champions Visser and Badenhorst were 61 seconds behind the Toyota crew and only had three seconds in hand over team-mates Woolridge and Huxtable.
Both Toyota teams and both Ford crews reported clean runs with no issues. But if the pace of the prologue is anything to go by there is going to be some hectic racing at the front of the field, and the factory crew will be under a little pressure from Atlas Copco Nissan Navara pair Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau.
In only their second outing in the Nissan Navara the experienced Bertholdt and Rousseau were 37 seconds behind Woolridge/Huxtable and completed the top five. Bertholdt and Rousseau, in turn will be under a little pressure from Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo, fresh from a podium finish in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux on the Toyota Desert Race, who were a further 16 seconds adrift.
De Bruyn and Hugo had a minute to spare over fellow North West crew Malcolm Kock and Johann Burger, in the Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux, who will be involved in an interesting little tussle with Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Trysome Toyota Hilux) and the German father/son pairing of Jurgen and Daniel Schroder in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Kock/Burger, running a V8 engine for the first time, were only seven seconds ahead of Venter/Palmer and the Schroders who were credited with the same time.
Another North West crew were a further seven seconds adrift with former SA champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in an RFS Toyota Hilux, joining the fray and completing the top 10.
There was something of a surprise in Class D with Rustenburg crew Dana Vos and Henri de Kock, in the Vossies Toyota Hilux, taking the honours on what is their first outing this season. The local pair came in ahead of Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser) and former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in the LMC Land Rover.
There was also an upset in Class E with Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux) finishing ahead of reigning drivers champion Dirk Putter and stand-in navigator Sarel Kriek in a Ford Ranger. There was a 33 second difference between the two crews with Putter under a little pressure.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park are all located at the Sun City complex. There is free public entrance to these areas with the race scheduled to start at 08:30.