TOYOTA TAKE CHARGE ON TOYOTA KALAHARI BOTSWANA 1000 DESERT RACE
Jwaneng, Botswana – A trio of Toyota crews took charge of the Production Vehicle category on the first racing section of the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, here today.
Sitting on top of the pile after a tough 450 kilometre stint were the factory Teams Castrol Toyota Hilux crews of reigning champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy, and Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie. At the end of the day Taylor and Murphy had a lead of 68 seconds over their team-mates with privateers Johan and Werner Horn, in the Malalane Toyota Hilux, joining the works teams in the top three.
Both the works crews and the Horns reported clean runs with the route a new one for teams after the event was moved to rural Jwaneng.
“We had a good day but the route is very fast,” said Taylor. “There is no room for error and it is going to be the same tomorrow.
“We are in a good position and hopefully we can make it two in a row.”
The Horns, in their first season in the premier Class T for cars over four litres with solid axle or independent rear suspension, continued their impressive start to the season. They currently lie second in the championship behind joint leaders Taylor/Murphy and Atlas Copco Ford crew Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst.
The Horns had a cushion of around five minutes over the factory Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger entry of Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau. They were followed by the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux of Sarel van Biljon and Philip Herselman who edged out the RFS Ford Ranger of Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren by only 16 seconds.
Schroder and Badenhorst were lying fourth at the halfway stage of the day’s proceedings and were eventually classified seventh in the overall and Class T standings. Their cause was not helped by a five minute penalty for a technical infringement, and tomorrow’s second racing section will see them fighting a rearguard action.
The experienced Atlas Copco Ford crew also found themselves under a bit of pressure from youngsters Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann, also in their first season in Class T, in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. For their part Venter/van Allemann were only 45 seconds clear of veteran former South African champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux.
Visser/le Roux were the first of the Class S entries for cars under four litre with solid axle rear suspension. The North West veterans were comfortably clear of Brazilians Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin who won Friday’s qualifying race to determine grid positions in a third Castrol Toyota Hilux.
Matters, however, did not go as smoothly for the Brazilians today. They hit a tree and suspension damage saw them drop down to 10th in the overall standings.
It was a good day for the Ruwacon Racing squad with Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling lying second in Class S to team-mates Visser and le Roux. De Bruin and Greyling are involved in a battle for the championship lead with Dion Venter/Ian Palmer (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), who suffered a disaster when they broke a sideshaft just one kilometre into today’s route.
Dewald and Anton Nienaber (Toyota Land Cruiser) were in charge of Class D with Jan Greeff and Dirk Putter (Ford Ranger) still ahead in Class E. Putter is the reigning Class E drivers champion.
The Class G category, appearing at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race for the first time, completed one lap of the course. Another good day saw Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (Polaris), winners of the qualifying race, extend their lead to over half an hour. Second were Daniel van Rooyen and Thys Greyvenstein (Polaris) with Brian Capper/Jaco Swart (Regent Racing Can-Am Maverick) doing well to fight back to third after starting from the back of the field after failing to finish the qualifying race.
Another tough 450 kilometres faces crew on the final racing section tomorrow. The start is at 8:00 with a fascination scenario waiting to unfold.