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Toyota in charge after Desert Race Day 2

2014-06-29 13:07

NEW CHALLENGE LEADERS: Reigning Special Vehicle champions Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen took the lead in the 2014 Dakar Challenge, a race within race in the Kalahari Botswana 1000, on Saturday (June 28). Image: MOTORPICS


JWANENG, Botswana – A trio of Toyota crews took charge of the Production Vehicle category on the first racing section of the 2014 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, Round 4 of the Donaldson Cross-Country championship, here on Saturday (June 28).

Sitting on top after a tough 450km stint were the factory Toyota Hilux crews of reigning champions Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy and Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie. At the end of the day Taylor/Murphy had a lead of 68 seconds over their team mates with privateers Johan/Werner Horn (Hilux) joining the works teams in the top three.


Both the works crews and the Horns reported clean runs with the route a new one for teams after the event was moved to rural Jwaneng. Taylor said: “We had a good day but the route is very fast. There is no room for error and it is going to be the same on Sunday.

“We’re in a good position and I hope we can make it two in a row.”


The Horns, in their first season in the premier Class T for cars over four litres with solid axle or independent rear suspension, continued their impressive start to the season. They are second in the championship behind joint leaders Taylor/Murphy and Ford Ranger crew Manfred Schroder/Japie Badenhorst.

The Horns had a cushion of around five minutes over the factory Ranger entry of Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau. They were followed by the Hilux of Sarel van Biljon/Philip Herselman who edged out the Ranger of Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren by only 16 seconds.

Schroder/Badenhorst were fourth at halfway and were eventually classified seventh overall and in Class T. Their cause was not helped by a five-minute penalty for a technical infringement; Sunday’s second racing section will see them fighting a rearguard action.

The experienced Ford crew also found themselves under pressure from youngsters Jason Venter/Vincent van Allemann (Hilux), also in their first season in Class T. They were only 45 seconds clear of veteran former South African champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Hilux).


Visser/Le Roux were the first of the Class S entries for cars under four litres with solid axle rear suspension. The North West veterans were comfortably clear of Brazilians Reinaldo Varela/Gustavo Gugelmin who won Friday’s qualifying race to determine grid positions in a third Castrol Toyota Hilux.

Matters, however, did not go as smoothly for the Dakar-wise Brazilians on Saturday. They hit a tree and suspension damage saw them drop down to 10th overall. Guess there are not many trees on the Dakar...

It was a good day for Ruwacon Racing with Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling second in Class S to team mates Visser/Le Roux. De Bruin/Greyling are involved in a battle for the championship with Dion Venter/Ian Palmer (Hilux), who broke a side shaft just a kilometre from Saturday’s start.

Dewald/Anton Nienaber (Toyota Land Cruiser) were in charge of Class D with Jan Greeff/Dirk Putter (Ranger) still ahead in Class E. Putter is the reigning Class E Drivers’ champion.

The Class G category, appearing in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race for the first time, completed one lap of the course. Another good day saw Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Polaris), winners of the qualifying race, extend their lead to more than a half-hour.


Second were Daniel van Rooyen/Thys Greyvenstein (Polaris) with Brian Capper/Jaco Swart (Can-Am Maverick) doing well to fight back to third after starting from the back of the field after failing to complete qualifying.

The crews are on another tough 450km today (Sunday June 30) on the final racing section. The start was at 8am with a fascinating scenario waiting to unfold.


Drama unfolded in the Special Vehicle category on Day 2 (Saturday June 29) of the 2014 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race with more drama set to unfold over the final 450km on Sunday in what is Round 4 of the Donaldson Cross Country championship.

There was a major shock when championship leaders Gerhard du Plessis and his teenage son Hardus (Jimco) were excluded from the results while lying third at the halfway stage on Saturday for “a technical infringement”.

At the end of the day, however, the family was still in the driving seat. Gerhard’s brother Laurence/Gielie le Roux (Zarco) held a 31-second lead over former South African champions Quintin/Kallie Sullwald in (BAT). The Sullwalds, in turn, were 1min58 ahead of current South African champions Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen (BAT).

But with less than three minutes between the top three crews, the race was poised for more twists and turns on Sunday. The Toyota 1000 invariably produces a sting in its tail.


Du Plessis/Le Roux, the latter in only his second race, the Sullwalds and Hutchison/Stassen sniped away at each other with the other Du Plessis crew also involved – on the first of the two 225km loops that made up the race. It was fascinating stuff and, with double points on offer on the only marathon event on the calendar, the stakes are high

“The route is very fast - you cannot afford a mistake,” said Hutchison. “It was a terrific day with some really good racing. Sunday is going to be another tough day.”

Republic of Congo brothers Eduardo/Riccardo Argazzi (BAT) slotted into fourth. Their only problem was a rope that got tangled in the rear axle but ultimately it was not too costly.

The Argazzis, however, ended the day under threat from former SA champions Wichard/Hermann Sullwald (Stryker) who were only 30sec behind the Congo pair. For Wichard Sullwald, after years of co-driving for his father, it is his first full race as a driver.

Next up, and on their Toyota 1000 debut, were kwaZulu-Natal crew Arthur Barnes/Anthony Usher (BAT). They are in their first full season of National racing and steady results have put them sixth in the championship.

Barnes said: “This is our first Desert Race. We’re determined to finish and are more than happy with our current position.”


Barnes/Usher were closely followed by two other KZN crews who completed the top eight and headed up Class P where there is potential for more drama. James Watson/John Thompson (BAT) held a tenuous 14sec lead over reigning champions John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco).

The final racing section started at Jwaneng at 8am today (June 29) with some highly experienced crews set for a battle that could provide a more–than-dramatic finish.

Read more on:    toyota  |  ford  |  botswana

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