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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: New Castrol Toyota Hilux shows its potential.

Not bad, but it could have been better - that was how Toyota Motorsport manager Wammy Haddad described results on the Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the Pilanesberg over the weekend. Factory crew Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin fought hard to claim fourth place overall and fourth in the Super Production Class, while there was also a Class E win for Toyota via Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux.

For Haddad perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the weekend was the performance of the new Castrol Toyota Hilux V6. In what was ostensibly the vehicle’s first outing, the Castrol Toyota Hilux showed enormous potential.

"Mark and Chris had a tough race and punctures and dust did not help their cause," said Haddad. "Trying to make up time in the dust is not easy, but fourth place was a good result for them. It also showed the new vehicle has tremendous potential, and I think we are on the right track."

A tired but happy Cronje said afterwards he and Birkin had earned their keep. For the pair it was their second top five finish of the season. "This is an event where it is very easy to underestimate just how tough it is," said Cronje. "A plus factor for us is the potential of the new vehicle."

Not so lucky were Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton, in the second Castrol Toyota Hilux running in the SP Class. They were forced to retire when the front left drive shaft broke off. "It was a disappointing result for Bevan and Robin, but these things happen on an event like the Sun City race," said Haddad. "It is an event that is very hard on drivetrains."

Leading Class D runners also found the going tough. Among the retirements were Cliff and Louis Weichelt, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D, and surprise Nissan Hluhluwe 400 winners Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock in a Toyota Hilux.

Toyota, however, dominated Class E and took five of the first six places. Visser and le Roux scored their second win of the season with the husband and wife team of George and Sharon Barkhuizen, in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, picking up a good second place.

Third place went to the factory Ford Racing Ranger crew of Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro. After them three Toyota crews - Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Roost Racing Toyota Hilux), Mark and Stuart Moffatt (Bosal Toyota Hilux) and Brian Martin/Ockie Fourie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) - came home in quick succession.

The next event on the calendar is the Toyota Desert Race in Botswana from 15 to 17 June.

2007/05/13 | 15:18 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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