Jwaneng, Botswana – Reigning South African champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy led a Toyota lockout of the podium positions on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, which ended here today.
Taylor and Murphy finished 32 seconds clear of Team Castrol Toyota Hilux team-mates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, with privateers Johan and Werner Horn, in the Malalane Toyota Hilux, continuing their dream start to their premier Class T career with their third podium place in three races. The Horn brothers were around 10 minutes behind Poulter and Howie, but never dropped out of the top three throughout the only marathon event on the Donaldson Cross Country Championship calendar.
The win for Taylor/Murphy, their second in a row in Botswana, also took them to the top of the Production Vehicle championship. The race counted for double points with Taylor/Murphy moving clear of Atlas Copco Ford Racing crew Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst, with the two teams tied at the top of the ladder going into the Toyota 1000 Desert Race.
“It was just about the perfect weekend,” said Taylor. “We had no major issues but there is always a little extra pressure on the factory team on the Desert Race.
“A clean sweep was reward for plenty of hard work from the entire team.”
The Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger teams of Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau and Manfred Schroder/Japie Badenhorst completed the top five. There was a bonus for Bertholdt/Rousseau who won the Dakar Challenge to win a free entry to next year’s Dakar Rally in South America.
After a racing section one five minute penalty dropped them from fourth to seventh, Schroder and Badenhorst fought back to claim a top five finish. Fifth place also did some championship damage control for the pair.
There was also a good fight back from Brazilian pair Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin in a third Castrol Toyota Hilux. After winning the qualifying race to determined grid positions they hit a tree on racing section one, and dropped to 10th at the overnight halt.
They gradually fought their way through the field today to finish sixth ahead of Class S winners Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Ruwacon Racing Toyota Hilux. The former South African champions revelled in the conditions and finished well clear of Hennie de Klerk/Johann Smalberger (RFS/Treasury One BMW X3) and Terence Marsh and Springbok rugby legend Stefan Terblanche in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara.
A second Ruwacon crew, Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling in a Ford Ranger, completed the top 10 and were second in Class S ahead of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. It was a brave fight back from Venter/Palmer after racing section one woes, but the result saw them surrender the Class S championship lead back to de Bruin/Greyling who have been models of consistency this season.
The new Class G category was competing in a Toyota 1000 Desert Race for the first time, with a comfortable victory going to Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer in a Polaris. They were well clear of Daniel van Rooyen/Thys Greyvensteyn, in another Polaris, with Leander Pienaar and Jaco Swart completing the podium positions in a Can-Am Maverick. (Information supplied by: Cross Country Commission/http://www.sacrosscountryracing.co.za)