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ABSA South African Championship 2007 Special-Newssection

This is the single-news section of the special of the ABSA South African Offroad Championship series 2007. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

ABSA 2007: High hopes for Toyota win on Toyota Dealer 400.

One of the elder statesmen in the Absa Off Road Championship, veteran Castrol Toyota co-driver Robin Houghton, has high hopes of a "home town" win on the Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga on November 2 and 3. The event, based in Lydenburg, is the penultimate round of the championship and could help decide one or two tight title fight issues. It is also one of two events in the championship carrying Toyota sponsorship and is high on the list of events Toyota crews would love to win.

"Obviously this is an event Toyota crews would love to win, and I think we have a great chance this year," said Houghton who sits alongside Bevan Bertholdt in one of three Castrol Toyota Hilux entries in the premier Super Production Class. Joining Houghton/Bertholdt in the Castrol Toyota factory team are Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin, and Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst with back-up from Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux.

"We have shown throughout the season that we have the pace to win events," said Houghton. "Mark and Chris have twice come close on the Toyota Desert Race and the Amathole 500, and I think the Ford and Nissan teams will be a little worried about our potential to win events.

"If we can put together reliability and pace, along with a little luck, I believe we can come up with a win." Houghton and Bertholdt scored Toyota’s first victory in a couple of seasons when they won last year’s Ford Carnival City 400, after a lean spell this season the pair scored their first points with fourth place on the recent Ford Motorite 400 in Limpopo. "It is a monkey off our backs and the Limpopo result has done our confidence a world of good," said Houghton. "It also gave us valuable seat time in the vehicle, and reinforced our contention that the win we owe the team can’t be far away."

Houghton added that one other factor regarding the Toyota Dealer 400 would favour him and Bertholdt and Cronje/Birkin. Houghton is also a South African rally champion and Cronje/Birkin in a Castrol Toyota RunX, are this year unbeaten in Class A7 in the Sasol SA Rally Championship.

"This event is run by the South African Motorsport Club (SAM) who also organise the Sasol Rally," said Houghton. "Any race organised by SAM will have top class route marking and the road book will be spot on. "Those of us with rally experience will feel comfortable with the organisation and, while it may appear a minor point, it could provide us with a slight advantage."

Apart from hopes of an overall win, Toyota will also be looking for good results in Classes D and E. Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D) bounced back to form on the Ford Motorite 400, and Ramon Bezuidenhout/Stefan Lock (Toyota Hilux) have been a surprise package in their first off road season.

There is no shortage of Toyota challengers in Class E where at least three crews will be aiming to resurrect championship hopes. Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie will want to put behind them two non finishes in a row, while George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) and Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) will also be out to mount late championship charges.

The event will be based at Lydenburg Toyota on Friday, 2 November and the Lydenburg Rugby Club on Saturday, 3 November which also serves as the designated service point (DSP) for the race. After a prologue on Friday to decide start positions, the race will run over three loops on Saturday with the start at Lydenburg Toyota.

2007/10/05 | 13:57 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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