|ABSA 2010: Toyota Teams lead Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Challenge|
Toyota, without a win on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race since 1999, ended day one of this year’s race in a powerful position with provisional results placing two factory cars and a privateer in the first three places.
After a day of intrigue and drama, only three minutes separated the first four cars after more than seven hours of racing with Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton leading Team Castrol Toyota team-mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie by a minute and 43 seconds. Only four seconds further adrift in third place were privateers and championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the RFS Toyota Hilux.
The three Toyotas fought a cat and mouse battle and edged out veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege, in the diesel powered BMW, who harried the Toyota trio throughout the day. It has set up an intriguing fight over the final section of the race tomorrow. "It was a tough day," said Taylor. "The route was tight and technical and you had to concentrate every inch of the way. "The tight situation up front made it even tougher and tomorrow is going to be intense."
Toyota’s hand on the final day was given a further boost with Bloemfontein crew George Barkhuizen and David van Wyck (AIM Toyota Hilux) an impressive fifth place. Soaring temperatures and a tight and technical route took a heavy toll on competitors with a string of fancied competitors falling by the wayside.
The lead crews all reported relatively clean runs with their progress hampered by niggly problems. It was a different story for a string of premier SP Class competitors who all fell by the wayside.
Chief among them were former winners Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the Team Ford Ranger TDCi, who retired with turbo problems. Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (Barden Tyres Services Nissan Navara) blew a motor and off road legend Alfie Cox and Jurgen Schroder (SP Laser Nissan Navara) retired with a blown head gasket.
The longest run of consecutive finishes in current off road racing came to an end when Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson rolled the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux), Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) and local pair Ausman Sadiq and Shaukat Fazaldin (Nissan Navara) also dropped out as the day wore on.
In Class D there were only two finishers with Deon Venter and Ian Palmer a creditable sixth overall in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. In only their second outing in a new car Venter and Palmer were a long way ahead of the Land Rover of Johan Steyn and Paul Jonker who were the last of the 54 cars to start out in both the production and Special vehicle categories.
After retiring from the Donaldson Prologue yesterday there was more trouble for Louis Weichelt and Johann Smalberger in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser. Their day ended when a ball joint on the steering broke and they hit a tree.
There was also a high drop out rate in Class E where Malcolm Kock, son of former winner Andre, and Johan Burger (Toyota Hilux) were a long way ahead of Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius in the Ruwacon Racing Ford Ranger. Championship leaders Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger) were third but have plenty of ground to make up.
Among the casualties were the two 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux entries of Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus and Hein Moolman/JD Wolfaardt, and the Adenco Ford Ranger of Etienne Bezuidenhout and Hanro Visser.
The final loop of the race starts at Kumakwane, about 25 kilometres from Gaborone, at 8am tomorrow. The designated service point is also at Kumakwane with the first cars expected at approximately 3pm.
2010/09/28 | 13:10 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS