|Donaldson CC: Toyota-Toyota-Nissan win at Nkomazi 450 rally in South Africa.|
Reigning Production Vehicle champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy got back to winning ways when they scored their second win of the season on the "Nkomazi 450", round three of the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship" last weekend.
For the Team Castrol Hilux crew it was an emphatic response after a non finish last time out on the "Toyota Dealer 450" in Mooi River. Most of the cheers, however, were reserved for home town crew Johan and Werner Horn, in the Malalane Toyota Hilux, who had the local community in raptures with their second podium finish in a row.
The final podium place went to Atlas Copco Nissan Navara pair Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson after a steady drive. It was their best performance of the season on a tight and tricky route.
"We never got out the car the whole weekend, and that is the key to winning races," said Taylor. "It was a tough route but we kept it smooth and never made any mistakes. We knew the Horns were within two minutes of us, but we controlled the pace perfectly."
It is a little ironical that the Horns are campaigning the car in which Taylor and Murphy won last year’s championship with a race to spare. For the Horns two podiums in their first three outings in a hi-tech Class T car left driver Johan stunned. "We would have laughed had anyone suggested before the season we would be on the podium twice in three races," he said. "In front of our home crowd this was a special result."
Taylor and Murphy inherited the lead early on the first of the two 175 kilometer loops that made up the race. Team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie lost a front wheel when studs came loose and, once in the lead, Taylor and Murphy were in complete control.
Van Staden and Lawrenson produced another workmanlike performance, and profited from the retirements of Poulter/Howie and Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Ford Ranger) who started ahead of them. For du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren it saw the continuation of a series of disappointing results.
There was also a season best from fourth placed Mike Whitehouse and George Myburgh in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Whitehouse/Myburgh finished a comfortable 75 seconds ahead of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer, in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux, who grabbed their second Class S victory in a row via an impressive top five performance.
"We had a good run, but on a tight track and with the dust it was almost impossible to pass anyone," said Venter. "All the cars we passed today were stranded on the side of the road."
Venter and Palmer were well clear of the factory Atlas Copco Ford Racing combination of Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst who went into the event with 11 points in hand over Poulter, and a lead of 15 points over Taylor/Murphy. After starting 12th on the road Schroder/Badenhorst salvaged a sixth overall and fifth in class to leave the overall and Class T championships poised on a knife edge.
Next up were Bloemfontein crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling, in the diesel powered Ruwacon Ford Ranger, who were second in Class S. De Bruin and Greyling went into the weekend leading the Class S title race, and this is another championship poised on a knife edge.
De Bruyn and Greyling had only nine seconds in hand over Thomas Rundle/Brett Cummings who were having their first outing of the season in the DMACK/Barden Toyota Hilux. Behind them the top 10 was completed by former SA champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux) who were third in Class S, and the Regent Racing Nissan Navara of Terence Marsh and former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey, who is the first footballer to compete in the Imperial Auto Celebrity Challenge.
Class D saw newcomers Dewald and Anton Nienaber make an auspicious start with a win first time out in the ex Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser. They were the last of the classified finishers with no Class E crew making it to the end.
Multiple SA motorcycle champion Brian Capper and Jaco Swart (Regent Racing Polaris) scored a comfortable win in the fledgling Class G or Side by Side category. With Leander Pienaar and Stephan Marais (Can-Am Maverick) among the non finishers it was a win that took Capper and Swart to the top of the championship. Second went to Gareth Woolridge, in another Polaris, with Werner Moster and Henno du Plooy third in the Motgo-Netix Polaris completing the podium.
The next event on the Donaldson Cross Country Championship calendar is the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 in Botswana from 27 to 29 June.
2014/05/20 | 12:45 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE