PROFILE: ANTHONY TAYLOR
Anthony Taylor served his apprenticeship in motor sport car preparation under his father, Roger, a well known personality in both local and international motor racing. With an exposure to motor sport from an early age it was natural that he should develop an active interest in the sport both in terms of vehicle preparation and as a competitor.
While he enjoyed a high level of support from his family, Anthony was always encouraged to be self-sufficient in the sport, preparing and driving his cars in the early phase of his career.
That career began in 1982, when Anthony was just eight years old, in motocross. He soon established himself as a top-10 competitor in this branch of the sport at a junior level, but expressed a preference to race on four wheels and moved across to karting. He spent the last half of the 1984 season in the Junior class.
For 1985 he moved up to the 100cc Stock class and immediately showed race winning potential. He finished the year as an established front runner in the category. He went on to finish second in the South African 100cc Stock championship in 1986 and moved up to the 100cc International class for 1987.
He again established himself as a front runner in this class and was selected to representSouth Africain the 1987 World Junior Championship staged inItaly. He followed this up by finishing fourth in the South African Championship for this class in 1988. The following year, while running second in the championship, he moved up to Formula GTi, the premier single seat formula inSouth Africaat the time.
Anthony was just 16 years and three days old when he won his first race in the series at the Goldfields Raceway. The highlight of the 1989 season came at an international event at Kyalami where he beat all comers, including German champion Ellen Lohr – this a full two years ahead of when he could legally drive on the roads.
In 1990 he became the youngest senior champion in South African motor racing when he won the GTi Championship and the South African Driver’s title when he was just 17 years old. At that time he also held every Formula GTi lap record in the country.
Anthony’s first outing forToyotacame in 1992 in Class D of the WesBank Challenge. The following year he was invited to join the official Toyota Dealer Team and campaigned a Toyota Conquest in Class D of the WesBank Challenge. Midway through the season he was elevated to a class C Sprinter and despite only competing in a partial season in the class, finished third in the class championship.
During a break fromToyotain 1984 Anthony contested the Stannic Touring Car Series. He rejoinedToyotaas a full works driver in a Camry for the 1995 Touring Car Series and continued in this role as team mate to Julian Bailey in 1996.
WhenToyotawithdrew from the Touring Car Series Anthony moved on to drive for competitor teams with mixed success. After a two year break from the sport Anthony was brought back into the South African Production Championship by Hennie van der Linde for 2003 and went on to win the championship that year. This was the first of three successive championships in the series. He continues to contest the Production Car Series in a car prepared by ADF Motorsport, a team that he was instrumental in founding.
While Toyota had long since moved on from any official involvement in circuit racing they continued to keep Anthony on their radar and midway through the 2008 season invited him to drive a Hilux SP vehicle for Castrol Team Toyota in the ABSA Off Road Car Championship in addition to his Production Car commitments.
In 2008 he showed winning form in the Hilux and became a benchmark competitor eventually taking his first win in the Hilux in the Magalies 400, the final round in the ABSA Series of the year. His race winning form continued into 2010 where he won one event and was the regular pace setter in the prologue staged prior to each event to determine start order.
His relationship withToyotacontinued in 2011 when he once again contested the ABSA Off Road Car Championship in a Castrol Hilux SP with experienced off road and rally navigator, Chris Birkin, as his team-mate.
He was again the pace setter throughout much of the season, but a win eluded him and he had to settle for two second places and was unlucky not to win the Toyota Desert Race, forced to stop with mechanical problems while leading just 17 kilometres from the finish after dominating the event.
In 2012 Taylor and Birkin are reunited in their Castrol Toyota Hilux and start the new season as one of the favourites to win the title, alongside team-mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie.