|ABSA 2010: 4x4 Mega World 400 victory for Team Castrol Toyota.|
Team Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Duncan Vos and Rob Howie gave the squad a much needed boost when they romped to victory in the Production Vehicle category on the 4x4 Mega World 400, round five of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, at Carnival City on Saturday.
It was the factory team’s first victory under new team principle Glyn Hall and Toyota’s third success of the season with privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst twice winning earlier in the season. Visser and Badenhorst, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, followed Vos and Howie across the line to consolidate their position at the top of the championship table.
The final podium place went to veteran former South African champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS BMW. It was only the third outing for the diesel BMW which is still very much in the development stage.
"That was hard work," said Vos who is the reigning South African drivers’ champion. "The route turned into a co-driver’s nightmare but Rob did a fantastic job, and this was a win the team needed. "With so many hidden dangers and lots of dust it was difficult to find a rhythm. A persistent misfire did not help but we stuck to our guns and it worked out okay."
Visser and Badenhorst reported a clean run with Grobler and ter Stege delighted with the diesel BMWs maiden podium finish. Fourth place went to the second Team Castrol Toyota Hilux of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton with their day ruined by punctures and an overheating problem.
With Vos/Howie, Visser/Badenhorst and Grobler/ter Stege all frontrunners in the overall and premier SP Class championships, title races are now delicately poised. With three events remaining a race to the wire looks to be on the cards.
An encouraging performance gave Free State crew George Barkhuizen and David van Wyck their second top five finish of the season in the AIM Toyota Hilux, with Sun City winners Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin sixth in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Pretoria youngsters Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Jansen van Vuuren brought the RFS Toyota Hilux home seventh with Free State crew Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) having a good day to complete the top eight.
It wasn’t such a good day for former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the Team Ford Ranger. A gearbox problem on the prologue saw them start from the back of the field, and they were then penalised 60 minutes for deviating from the route – which dropped them to 16th overall and 12th in class and hurt their championship hopes.
Another notable retirement saw Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, third on the Sun City 400, call it a day on the second of the two 175 kilometre loops that made up the race. The Barden Tyres Nissan Navara picked up overheating problems.
What also looked like a good day for Louis Weichelt and Johan Smalberger, in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser, turned sour. They were credited with the Class D win first time out in a new car, but were later excluded from the results for a technical infringement.
With the retirements of championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux), and the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer there were no finishers in Class D.
There was, however, plenty of compensation for the Mega World team. Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus and Hein Moolman/JD Wolfaardt, both out in 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux entries, were first and second in Class E.
Teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger), who led the championship going into this weekend’s event, were third. The title race is now delicately poised with young Woolridge facing a baptism of fire on his first Toyota Desert 1000 Race in Botswana next month.
2010/08/31 | 15:50 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/FORTUNE