Eston, kwaZulu-Natal – Honour was preserved when a Toyota crew won the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, round three of the SA Cross-Country Championship which ended on Saturday May 18 with the Ford team retaining their lead in the Production Vehicle and Class SP championships.Both factory teams can lay claim to the kwaZulu-Natal outing as a home race with Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy edging out the Ranger combination of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst. There were smiles from supporters – and sighs of relief – when Taylor and Murphy broke the ice to give the squad its first win of the season.NO HAT-TRICK HEREThe Taylor/Murphy victory prevented the rivals from notching up a hat-trick of wins this season. But after an enthralling race the latter will be happy with the second place that keeps former champions Visser and Badenhorst at the top of the overall and class championships.Taylor said: "We had a cat-and-mouse dice with the Ford throughout the race but in the end it was touch and go. We had an issue with the car and they closed right up on us."After an enthralling duel between the Hilux and the Ranger, the gap after 400km of racing was just 39 seconds. Reigning SA champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie finished third – although the pair somewhat modified the front of the Hilux after running into the back of Special Vehicle category winners Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen at a road crossing.The scrap between Taylor/Murphy and Visser/Badenhorst was reminiscent of the battle the Ford crew fought out with Vos and Howie on the Human Auto 400 in the Free State in 2012. On that occasion it was the Ford crew who held on by the skin of their teeth.TOP SPOTSTwo North West crews filled the top five places with Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger (Hilux) coming home ahead of former SA champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in another Hilux. It completed a little family cameo with the Visser brothers and Kock their cousin.Fourth place also lifted privateers Kock and Burger, in unofficial scoring, into third place on their own in the Production Vehicle and Class SP title races. With 37 points the pair trail Visser Badenhorst (63) and Taylor/Murphy (48) and are one point clear of Vos/Howie.Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson were again the pick of the bunch with an adventurous sixth place in a Navara. They were around four minutes adrift of Visser/le Roux, but were comfortably ahead of the impressive Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger who are finding their feet in the ex Hannes Grobler/Hennie X3 now running in LA Sport colours.FAMILY AFFAIRJohan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson survived a roll in the Hilux to finish eighth while team mates Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rossouw were classified among the non finishers. Van Staden and Lawrenson held off Free State pair Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling in the Ranger, with brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Land Cruiser) taking their first Class D win of the season with a top 10 finish.After two Class D wins in a row Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann were also casualties in the Hilux with former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (Land Rover) again demonstrating their penchant for consistency. They also survived a roll to be the last of the classified finishers – and played Good Samaritan to a number of competitors - but after a second in class remain title contenders. There was an upset in Class E where reigning champions Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Hilux) suffered their first non finish in 16 events. Fuel pump issues saw them time barred – by just six seconds – and Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Hilux) took a maiden national win.The SA Cross-Country Championship now heads for Botswana for the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race from June 21-23. With the only marathon event on the calendar carrying points and a half it could play a major role in the final outcome of the championship.