|ABSA 2012: Toyota crews triumph on Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 rally.|
Toyota finally got a monkey off their back and, after 13 years of waiting, had cause for a double celebration at the "Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000" Desert Race which ended in South Africa last weekend.
Team Castrol Toyota Hilux crews Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin came home in that order on round four of the Absa Off Road Championship to give Toyota their first win on the Botswana classic since 1999.
At the finish just 35 seconds separated the two crews with Vos and Howie taking their third successive victory to tighten their hold on the Production Vehicle category championship in the Absa series.
"We are over the moon," said a tired but elated Vos after the only marathon event on the South African off road championship calendar. "A one/two on the toughest race on the calendar was a great team effort. This was a typical Desert Race and you had to concentrate every inch of the way."
The two Castrol Toyota crews dominated from early on racing section one yesterday when they went past Donaldson Prologue winners Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege, in the RFS BMW X3, who completely disappeared off the race radar later in the day. From that moment on the two Team Castrol Toyotas were simply unstoppable.
At the end of yesterday’s proceedings the gap between the Toyota pair was 11 seconds. A puncture that delayed Taylor/Birkin on the first of today’s two 200 kilometre loops that made up racing section two, saw the gap stretch to just over three minutes.
With so much at stake Vos and Howie understandably took their foot off the gas on the final 200 kilometres but, barring the sort of misfortune that befell Taylor and Birkin last year, had the race in the bag. Taylor and Birkin led last year until a mechanical problem less than 20 kilometres from the finish saw them end up second behind the Ford Racing Ranger of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst.
The final podium position went to the impressive young Pretoria crew Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the second RFS Toyota Hilux. It was their best result of the season with the pair holding off a determined challenge from Visser and Badenhorst over the last 200 kilometres.
After 1000 kilometres of racing the final gap between the RFS BMW and the Ford Racing Ranger was just 13 seconds. The top five were completed by Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo, in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux, with the North West crew a further eight minutes in arrears in what was also their best result of the season.
Behind the first five there was a good battle between Mike Whitehouse/Terence Marsh/Mathew Carlson (Regent Racing Nissan Navara), Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) and Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara. The trio were separated by less than three minutes with Rundle/Mohr fighting back after a disappointing racing section one.
The Class D battle turned into a family affair with Louis Weichelt leading home father Cliff, with both out in N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser entries, to grab a highly commendable top 10 finish. The younger Weichelt, partnered by Maret Bezuidenhout, was around 40 minutes ahead of his father and Johann Smalberger, with reigning Class D champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (LMC Land Rover) continuing a remarkable sequence of finishes in third place.
The result also saw the younger Weichelt join a small band of competitors who have won the Toyota 1000 Desert Race as a co-driver and driver. A couple of seasons ago Weichelt won overall with Duncan Vos as a stand-in co-driver.
Class E championship leaders Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens scored their third win in four outings this season in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. They were more than an hour ahead of Diederik Hattingh and Kristo Bosman in the Transcor Toyota Hilux.
The Putter/Claasens win saw Toyota make a clean sweep of the premier SP Class, Class D and Class E. Toyota also won the manufacturers award.
2012/06/25 | 16:29 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE