Toyota Gazoo Racing SA One/Two In qualifying For 1000 Desert Race

Normal service was resumed on Friday with two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA cars leading one/two in the Production Vehicle qualifying race for the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, which starts here tomorrow.

Action from the Desert Race (Pic by Waldo van der Waal)

Action from the Desert Race (Pic by Waldo van der Waal)

Toyota factory teams in Toyota Hilux models have dominated the race since 2012 with Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy and Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie separated by one minute and 51 seconds in the 120 kilometre sprint to determine start positions for the first heat of the race. Both Taylor/Murphy and Poulter/Howie were out in cars running in the new FIA Class with neither reporting anything untoward on the way to clean runs.

The stars of the day, however, were brothers Johan and Werner Horn who brought the Malalane Toyota Hilux home in third place. The Horns, in a Class T car, were 43 seconds behind Poulter and Howie and came in ahead of three international crews also running to FIA Class specifications.

“It was smooth sailing all the way,” said a delighted Johan Horn afterwards. “It could not have gone any better.”

The Horns finished ahead of Brazilians Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea, Christian Baumgart and Beco Andreotti Neto, both in Neil Woolridge Motorsport/Rally X Ford Rangers, and Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and former Dakar Rally winner Dirk von Zitzewitz in another Toyota Gazzo Racing SA Toyota Hilux. Only a minute and five seconds separated the international trio, and the Horns are going to find themselves in the firing line in the early stages of tomorrow’s race.

“We are driving to the conditions, and the route was very bumpy,” said von Zitzewitz. “Conrad drove very sensibly and the car is good.”

The next four places all went to cars also competing in Class T for vehicles over four litres with solid axle rear suspension. Cars this season must run tyres that are commercially available with former South African champion Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable (NWM/Ford Performance Ranger) coming in behind the trio of international cars.

An error soon after the start cost Visser, a former Desert Race winner, and Huxtable valuable time but the pair recovered to come in just over 80 seconds ahead of Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson, in a Red-Line Motorsport Nissan Navara, and Christiaan du Plooy and Japie Badenhorst (RFS VW Amarok) who were involved in an almighty battle for seventh and eighth.

In the end the cars were separated by only three seconds. Van Staden/Lawrenson reported a clean run in typical Desert Race conditions, but du Plooy and former winner Japie Badenhorst were bemoaning a puncture five kilometres from the finish.

The top 10 was rounded out by the Treasury One BMW in the hands of Hennie de Klerk and youngster Adrian Roets. A steady driver saw them home against the likes of Luke Botha/Andre Vermeulen (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara), Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), Gary Berthold/Pierre Arries (Atlas Copco VW Amarok) and Terence Marsh, with Carte Blanche presenter Derek Watts doing the navigating, in the Red-Line Nissan Navara running in the FIA Class.

It was heavy going for the Class S cars for up to four litres with solid axle rear suspension. They were lead home by Otto Graven and Bobby Brewis and Ronald Graven and Lohan Faber in a pair of Graven Motorsport Toyota Hilux’s. Third were the experienced Heine Strumpher and Henri Hugo in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux.

The major casualties of the day were youngsters Gareth Woolridge and Body Dreyer in another NWM/Ford Ranger. The pair rolled the Ford but managed to get it back on its wheels and, in true Desert Race spirit, will be among the starters tomorrow.

Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park are all situated at the Jwaneng Sports Club and adjoining showground facility. Public access to these areas will be controlled, but there is free entry into spectator viewing points along the route. Tomorrow’s race starts at 08:30. (mail@sacrosscountryracing.co.za)

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