Local crews take a back seat on Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media)
27 June 2014
LOCAL CREWS TAKE A BACK SEAT ON TOYOTA KALAHARI 1000 DESERT RACE
Brazilian pair win Production Vehicle qualifying
Jwaneng, Botswana - Local crews took a back seat today when Brazilian crew Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin, in a factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, won the 100 kilometre Production Vehicle qualifying race on the opening day of the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race here today.
The race is round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship with crews chasing double points on the only marathon event on the calendar. The winners of the Dakar Challenge, run in conjunction with the national race, will also win a free entry into next year’s Dakar Rally in South America.
The qualifying race determined grid positions for the first 450 kilometre stint tomorrow, with the race ending with another 450 kilometre slog on Sunday. Although they have Dakar experience no one knew what to expect from Varela and Gugelmin who quickly nailed their colours to the mast.
The Brazilians came home 36 seconds ahead of Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Ford Ranger) who enjoyed their best day of the season so far. The Pretoria pair were followed home by joint championship leaders Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst in the first of the factory Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger entries.
Schroder/Badenhorst had 29 seconds in hand over Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in a second works Team Castrol Toyota Hilux. Brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) completed the top five and continued their impressive form in their first season in the premier Class T category – for vehicles over four litres with solid axle or independent rear suspension - by finishing just 14 seconds behind the factory car.
Only one minute 47 seconds separated the first five crews with all the major championship contenders conscious of the fact that the Desert Race is never won on the first day – but can easily be lost during the qualifying race. The top eight was completed by Malcolm Kock/Johann Burger (Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux), and factory crews Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger) and reigning champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy in the third of the Castrol Toyota Hilux works entries.
Kock and Burger were brought up in North West Province and revelled in the conditions. For their part Bertholdt/Rousseau and Taylor/Murphy, who share the overall championship lead with Schroder and Badenhorst, will be happy to start within three minutes of Varela and Gugelmin.
Further down the finish order there were a couple of surprises with Heine Strumpher/Henri Hugo and newcomers Etienne Nienaber and Dewaal Ferreira, in Toyota Hilux entries, grabbing top 10 finishes and taking the first two places in Class S for cars up to four litres with solid axle rear suspension.
Strumpher/Hugo and Nienaber/Ferreira finished ahead of some Class S heavyweights among them former South African champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux.
Visser and le Roux finished just over a minute clear of Class S championship leaders Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. Hot on their heels were Bloemfontein crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling, in the Ruwacon Ford Ranger, who are only a point behind Venter/Palmer in the Class S title stakes.
The Class D lead went to Dewald and Anton Nienaber in a Toyota Hilux with Jan Greef and Dirk Putter leading Class E in a Ford Ranger. Putter is the reigning Class E drivers champion.
Class G or the Side by Side category made it’s Desert Race debut with Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (Polaris Razor) dominating the 60 kilometre prologue. They were 10 minute clear of championship leaders Brian Capper and Jaco Swart (Regent Racing Polaris) with the big losers title contenders Leander Pienaar and Stephan Marais (Can-Am Maverick) who were non finishers.
The first 450 kilometre racing section will run over two loops of approximately 225 kilometres and will start tomorrow at 8:00. There will be a compulsory halt at race headquarters at the Jwaneng sports complex at the end of the first lap.
Follow the Donaldson Cross Country Championship action on:
Local crews take a back seat on Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.pdf (378kB)
TDR 2014 - Provisional Qualifying @ 16H31.pdf (103kB)