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2014-02-10 12:03

BATTLE ON: The privateer BMW X3 gave the factory works teams a run for the title during the Atlas Copco Gold 400 in Westonaria, Gauteng on Saturday. Image: Supplied


WESTONARIA, Gauteng - With seven wins between them going into the final event of the season, the works Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger teams looked set for a whitewash in all eight rounds of the Production Vehicle category in the Donaldson Cross Country Championship.

An unlikely win on the Atlas Copco Gold 400 by Rustenburg crew Willem Vos and Werner Weiss, in the BMW X3, stopped the two factory teams in their tracks.

Honours in the battle of the factory teams finally went to Toyota with five wins as against two, with the overall and premier SP Class championships going to Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy. A burst of four successive wins in mid-season saw Taylor and Murphy settle the championship issue on the penultimate event of the year, with outgoing champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie taking the other Toyota victory.
Ford started 2014 on a high with two wins in the first two races. Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable won the opening event, the RFS 400, and former champions Chris Visser/apie Badenhorst won the inaugural Nkomazi 400 in Malalane.
Behind the two factory teams the privateers waged some interesting battles with bragging rights finally going to Atlas Copco crews Gary Berthold/Siegfried Rousseau and Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson.
Bertholdt/Rousseau took an early podium in a Toyota Hilux, switched to a Nissan Navara in mid-season and ended up on the podium on their own event at the end of the season.

A third Atlas Copco crew, Sarel van Biljon of Dakar rally quad fame, and Philip Herselman, also grabbed a top five finish while a bevy of Toyota crews had their moments. The group included Malcolm Kock/Johan Burger (Hilux), Hugo de Bruyn/Henri Hugo (Hilux), former champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Hilux) and Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Hilux) who were integral parts of some fierce midfield battles.
The Class D championship was a straight fight between Jason Venter and Vincent van Alleman ( Hilux) and brothers Johan and Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser. A horrible start to the season with three non finishes in the first four events did nothing for the Malalane based Horns.
The Class E championship was decided with two events still to run with Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Ford Ranger) clinching back to back championships. Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Hilux) had a good year with three wins, and newcomers Johan Pretorius and Gesina Dauth (Toyota Hilux) ended the season on a high with a maiden national win on the Atlas Copco Gold 400.
Motorsport South Africa steward Francois Jordaan said: “Going through a season without a single protest is a credit to the professionalism and sportsmanship in the Donaldson championship. We had a few close shaves, but race officials made a number of correct calls at the right time.”

Read more on:    gauteng  |  racing  |  motorsport

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