Factory teams resume hostilities on Vryburg 400
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media)
30 August 2013
FACTORY TEAMS RESUME HOSTILITIES ON VRYBURG 400
The resumption of hostilities between the Toyota and Ford factory teams will dominate the Production vehicle category at the Vryburg 400, round six of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, on September 6 and 7.
Three wins on the trot have taken Team Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy into a tenuous 10 point lead in both the overall and premier SP Class championships. Taylor and Murphy have edged ahead of Ford Racing pair Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst and the title chases look to have developed into a straight race between the two crews.
Toyota lead Ford 3-2 in terms of wins this season while Visser and Badenhorst have been models of consistency with five podium finishes and a win on the Nkomazi 400 earlier in the season. The other win went to Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in the second works Ford Ranger and the Pietermaritzburg crew, along with reigning champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the second Castrol Toyota Hilux, have important supporting roles to play in the battle raging between the two championship leading crews.
Team Castrol Toyota has also thrown Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee into the mix. Poulter will join Giniel de Villiers in the Imperial Toyota team in next year’s Dakar Rally, and they will want to give him as much competitive seat time as is possible.
If there is one factor that could tip the scales ever so slightly in favour of Visser and Badenhorst it is the return of national cross country racing to North West Province. Visser grew up just down the road from Vryburg, and he and a crop of other drivers who cut their racing teeth in farm pick-up trucks will be licking their lips in anticipation of a return to old stamping grounds.
Other North West crews include Visser’s brother Jannie and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux), Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) and Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger in the Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux. All three crews hold down places in the top 10 in the championships and, along with Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau (Atlas Copco Nissan Navara) and Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS BMW X3), look to be the biggest privateer threat to the factory teams.
Consistency has lifted Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson, in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, into fourth place in the championship ahead of Bertholdt/Rousseau who have been hurt by two non finishes. Bertholdt and Rousseau, however, look to have found extra pace in the new Nissan Navara while du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren will be aiming for a strong finish to the season.
After a disappointing year so far the Regent Racing Nissan Navara squad will be looking for decent results. Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson are the team’s only top 10 representatives and along with Terence Marsh/Gerhard Schutte and Jurgen Schroder and Michael Abrahamson will be under a little pressure to turn potential into meaningful returns.
In the other car running under the Regent Racing banner, the Imperial Automotive Nissan Navara, Archie Rutherford will be partnered by Jonty Rhodes. The cricket legend returns for a second helping of cross country racing after sitting alongside Rutherford on the Gold 400 at the end of last season.
Dakar Rally quad racing hero Sarel van Biljon, partnered by Philip Herselman in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, will again come under scrutiny while Free State pair Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) will be top 10 candidates.
Championship leaders Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann (Trysome Toyota Hilux) will start slight favourites in Class D. The pair will come under pressure from Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser).
The Horns won at Sun City and the Vryburg return match is loaded with potential. Consistency has again kept Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (LMC Land Rover) in the championship hunt and reliability will be their main weapon, while Diederik Hattingh/Gary Austin will be looking for good result in a Ford Ranger.
Class E championship leader Dirk Putter, reunited with regular co-driver Koos Claasens in the Ford Ranger, will be looking to return to winning ways. Putter, with Sarel Kriel standing in for Claasens, failed to finish in the Pilanesberg and a maiden win will have given Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux) a boost in confidence.
Race headquarters and the designated service point will be located at the Vryburg Motor Club with free public entry to these areas and spectator points along the route. Qualifying will start at 12:00 on September 6 and the race at 08:30 on September 7.
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Factory teams resume hostilities on Vryburg 400.pdf (239kB)
2013 Vryburg 400 - Draft Entry List 30 Aug.pdf (156kB)