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Champions triumph on Nkomazi 450

2014-05-19 11:02

ANOTHER WIN: Anthony Taylor (left) and Dennis Murphy grabbed their second win of the season in the Nkomazi 450 event in Malalane, Mpumalanga. Image: Quickpic


MALALANE, Mpumalanga – Reigning Production Vehicle champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy got back to their winning ways with their second win of the season on the Nkomazi 450, Round 3 of the 2014 South African National Cross-Country championship, on Saturday (May 17).

It was an emphatic response after a non-finish last time out on the Toyota Dealer 450 in Mooi River for the Hilux crew. Most of the cheers, however, were reserved for home-town crew Johan and Werner Horn who had the local community in raptures with their second podium finish in a row.


The final podium place went to the Nissan Navara pair Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson after a steady drive. It was their best performance of the 2014 season on a tight and tricky route.

Taylor said: "We never got out of the car the whole weekend and that's the key to winning races. 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 ironic that the Horns were in the car in which Taylor and Murphy won the 2013 championship, with a race to spare. For the Horns, two podiums in their first three outings in a high-tech Class T car left driver Johan stunned.

Horn said: "We would have laughed had anyone suggested before the season we would be on the podium twice in three races. In front of our home crowd this was a special result."

Taylor and Murphy inherited the lead early on the first of the two 175km 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 good performance and profited from the retirements of Poulter/Howie and Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (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 Nissan Navara. Whitehouse/Myburgh finished a comfortable 75 seconds ahead of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer, in the Hilux, who grabbed their second Class S victory in a row via an impressive top five performance.

Venter said: "We had a good run, but on a tight track and with the dust it was almost impossible to pass anyone. All the cars we passed today were stranded on the side of the road."

Venter and Palmer were well clear of the factory Ford Ranger 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.

Bloemfontein's Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling in the diesel Ford Ranger were second in Class S. They went into the weekend leading the Class S title race - 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 a Toyota Hilux. Behind them the top 10 was completed by former SA champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Hilux) who were third in Class S and the 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 a 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 scored a comfortable win in the fledgling Class G or Side by Side category. With Leander Pienaar and Stephan Marais among the non-finishers it was a win that took Capper/Swart to the top of the championship.

Second went to Gareth Woolridge, in a Polaris, with Werner Moster and Henno du Plooy third in completing the podium.

The next event on the SA National Cross-Country Championship calendar is the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 in Botswana from June 27-29.

Production Vehicles race results: Class T – 1 A Taylor/D Murphy (Toyota Hilux); 2 J Horn/W Horn (Toyota Hilux); 3 J van Staden/M Lawrenson (Nissan Navara). Class S –  1 D Venter/I Palmer (Toyota Hilux); 2 L de Bruin/R Greyling (Ford Ranger TDC); 3 J Visser/J le Roux (Toyota Hilux).

Read more on:    mpumalanga  |  malelane  |  motorsport  |  off-road  |  rally

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