DOUBLE TROUBLE: SA cross-country rally champs Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy won another round during the 2015 Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race. Image: Meghan McCabe
JWANENG, Botswana – Reigning South African champions Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy gave the Toyota Hilux factory team a Production Vehicle double for the weekend when they won Heat 2 of the 2015 Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, Round 3 of the South African Cross-Country championship, which ended on Sunday (June 30).
Taylor/Murphy, who won both heats in 2014, cruised in well ahead of second-placed Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Ford Ranger) who scored the first podium place this season by a private team.
In the first two races of the season and the opening heat here in Botswana all the podium places were filled by crews from Toyota or Ford factory teams.
OUT OF LUCK
Third on Sunday were championship leaders Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie, in the second of the factory Toyota Hiluxes, who won both the qualifying race to determine grid positions and Heat 1. Their luck ran out today, however, with a broken brake caliper on the first of two 210km loops that made up Sunday’s race costing them around 20minutes.
Poulter said later: “We tried our best to haul in the Atlas Copco car on the second loop but the earlier incident left us with some clutch damage. In the end we had to slow down and settle for third.”
Production Vehicle category result
Production Vehicle class result
By contrast there was a clean run for Taylor/Murphy. The crew, in fact, reported no problems in qualifying or through the two heats. Taylor said on Sunday: "Once we got past Leeroy all we had to concentrate on was keeping it clean and avoiding mistakes. I've been a victim of the Desert Race sting-in-the-tail and in this race there are so many little things that can catch you out.”
Behind the two factory cars and Bertholdt/Rousseau there was a dream result for Desert Race rookies Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Ford Ranger). Woolridge’s father is a three-times winner of the Desert Race; the rookies hardly putting a wheel wrong throughout the day.
A top five finish was also just reward for an impressive performance throughout the weekend from Heine Strumpher/Henri Hugo (Hilux). Throughout the weekend the pair dominated Class S for vehicles up to four litres with solid axle rear suspension, with the North West crew revelling in the tight and sandy conditions.
Strumpher/Hugo were followed home by three premier Class T crews in Jurgen/Max Schroder (Nissan Navara), Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Navara) and the brother/sister combination of Jacques/Lizelle van Tonder (Ford Ranger). The Schröders battled gearbox problems all day and completed the first and second loop with three out of six gears.
Two other Class S crews completed the top 10 with Deon Venter/Jaco van Aardt (Hilux) leading home Portuguese crew Rómulo Branco/João Serôdio in (Navara). Two punctures cost Venter/Van Aardt time while the Portuguese pair, who won the opening event of the year, found the going a little tough on the only marathon event on the series calendar.
It was also an unhappy weekend for the works Ford Performance team with former South African champions Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst the last of the classified finishers in 14th overall and ninth in Class T. Team mates Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ranger) were forced to retire with a broken transfer case.
The next event on the National Cross-Country championship calendar will be the Nkomazi 450 around Malalane in Mpumalanga over August 7/8 2015.
FIRST PODIUM: Second-placed Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau in the Ford Ranger scored the first podium place this season by a private team. Image: Meghan McCabe