Veteran Crew Win Toyota Botswana 1000 Desert Race Prologue
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media)
22 June 2012
VETERAN CREW WIN TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE PROLOGUE
Gaborone, Friday – Veteran crew Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege turned back the clock to win the Production Vehicle category on a close fought Donaldson Prologue at the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which started here today.
Grobler, a six time winner of the race, and ter Stege took the RFS BMW X3 to a slender three second win over Team Castrol Toyota pair Duncan Vos and Rob Howie. The second Castrol Toyota factory entry of Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin was a further 12 seconds in arrears.
The 60 kilometre prologue decided grid positions for the race which starts tomorrow morning. With only 15 seconds separating the first three cars and 32 seconds the top five, the scene is set for an intriguing first racing section on the only marathon event on the Absa calendar.
Fourth were Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the second RFS BMW X3, with Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr fifth in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara. Rundle and Mohr were having their first outing of the season and were just four seconds behind the young RFS crew.
“It was a tight and demanding route and the rest of the race is going to require a great deal of concentration,” said Grobler who has a huge following in Botswana. The ebullient Grobler is to retire at the end of the season after a 37 year career, and a win this weekend would be a fairytale for the popular Pretoria driver.
Vos/Howie go into the race with two successive wins behind them, and along with Taylor/Birkin go into the race tasked with ending a Toyota drought on this race. Toyota has not won their own race since 1999 but look to have a strong hand this time around.
Former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst were sixth fastest in the diesel powered Ford Racing Ranger. Visser and Badenhorst were caught in dust but were only 15 seconds behind Rundle and Mohr. The Ford pair, however, were just four seconds clear of Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux.
Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable, in the second Ford Racing Ranger, Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) and reigning SA champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux completed the top 10. The top 10 are separated by around two and a half minutes and that adds to the interest.
The major casualties on the prologue were Atlas Copco pair Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau. A drive shaft problem sidelined them five kilometres from the finish and if they make it to the start will be at the back of the field.
A tremendous battle is on the cards in Class D with Louis Weichelt and Maret Bezuidenhout (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) just one second ahead of Mpumalanga based brothers Johan and Werner Horn in the Malalane
Toyota Land Cruiser. Championship leaders Cliff Weichelt and Johann Smalberger, in the second N1 4x4 Land Cruiser, were just over a minute behind the Horns setting up an interesting confrontation.
Down in Class E championship leaders Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens, in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux, were around two minutes clear of Johan Griffioen and Willem Marais in the Force Fuel Toyota Hilux. Griffioen and Marais are in their first season of national racing.
Tomorrow’s first racing section starts at 08:00 at Kumakwane on the outskirts of Gaborone. The section will consist of two loops with a compulsory 20-minute stop at race headquarters at Kumakwane at the end of the first lap.
Veteran Crew Win Toyota Botswana 1000 Desert Race Prologue.pdf (804kB)
2012 Toyota 1000 Desert Race - Donaldson Prologue Results.pdf (256kB)