Castrol Team Toyota’s Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin in the #7 class SP Toyota Hilux and Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the #3 Hilux completed a hot and dusty 56 kilometre Donaldson Prologue near Sun City this afternoon in fourth and seventh places respectively in preparation for tomorrow’s Sun City 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship for production vehicles.
With the special vehicles competing in the same race but in their own championship, Taylor and Vos find themselves in sixth and 15th places on the road overall and will have their job cut out for them when the 320 kilometre race gets underway from the Sun City entrance car park at 08.30 on Saturday.
“It was a tough prologue with some technical sections and some very fast sections where we got up to 170 km/h,” said Taylor, who is looking for his first win of the season after twice finishing runner-up to team-mate Vos. “We’re better off than we were in last year’s prologue, when we punctured two tyres after hitting a rock hidden in long grass.” Taylor and Birkin went on to finish 12th after running as high as sixth. They lost an hour replacing a broken side shaft on the side of the road.
Vos reported that he had to battle through thick dust when he caught the Toyota Hilux of Gary Bertholdt and Ralph Pitchford, who started in front of him but lost time when they stopped to change a flat tyre. He was able to pick up the pace after catching and passing Bertholdt, but was then held up again when he caught the BMW X3 of Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege when they, too, stopped to change a flat tyre.
“We lost quite a bit of time and were also surprised at one stage when we came across a private bakkie coming towards us on the route,” said Vos, who is aiming for a fourth successive win and to extend his lead in the championship. He and Howie won the event last year.
“It’s going to be tough passing in the dry and dusty conditions tomorrow,” said Vos. “We’re going to have to be patient and take our chances when we can.” He and Howie enjoy a 33 point advantage over team-mates Taylor and Birkin and are a comfortable 40,5 points ahead of third-placed Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger), who were 10th among the class SP bakkies and will start Saturday’s race a challenging 19th overall.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, Imperial Toyota Group, NGK, Ferodo, SKF, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.