document : Toyota crews take charge of Production Vehicle title race

Toyota crews take charge of Production Vehicle title race
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media) 04 July 2014


Two Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race wins in a row for Taylor/Murphy

The Production Vehicle title chase in this year’s Donaldson Cross Country Championship is starting to ominously look like a near carbon copy of last season’s series.

Last year reigning champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy went to the Toyota Botswana Kalahari 1000 Desert Race level on points with Ford Racing pair Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst. This year Taylor/Murphy went into the race level pegging with Manfred Schroder, deputising for the injured Visser for the season, and Badenhorst in the Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger.

Victory in last year’s race was part of a mid-season burst of four wins in a row that helped the Castrol Toyota Hilux crew wrap up the championship with a race to spare. Now victory in this year’s race has seen Taylor/Murphy open up a convincing 28 point lead at the top of the championship, and provided them with their third win of the year.

In another change at the top of the points log the surprise package of the season, Johan and Werner Horn in their rookie year in the premier Class T in the Malalane Toyota Hilux, move into second place. The two racing sections in this year’s Desert Race were scored as two separate races and two third places lifted the Horn brothers ahead of Schroder and Badenhorst.

There is only two points in it, but Schroder and Badenhorst will be rueing the day two five minute penalty, for a technical infringement, that dropped them down to seventh. The pair did some damage control on the final racing section to finish fifth and stay ahead of – by three points – Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie who picked up two second place in the second of the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries.

Two solid fourth places for Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau in the second of the Atlas Copco Ford Racing Rangers lifted them into fifth place in the overall standings. The big bonus for Berthold/Rousseau, however, was victory in the Dakar Challenge that will see them pack their bags for a free entry into the Dakar Rally in 2015 in South America.

There was also a change at the top of Class S with Free State crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger), moving back into the lead ahead of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. De Bruin and Greyling, have been models of consistency and along with the Horns and Schroder/Badenhorst, are the only Production Vehicle competitors with 100 percent finish records this season.

After a disastrous day two, which lasted less than a kilometre, Venter and Palmer, fought back in day three but now share second place in Class S with veteran North West crew Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux. Visser/le Roux revelled in the conditions to take two convincing wins in Botswana, and after missing the Toyota Dealer 450 earlier in the season are back in the championship mix.

An interesting situation is developing in the new Class G category where only 12 points now separate the top three crews. Brian Capper/Jaco Swart (Regent Racing Polaris) still lead the championship, but two wins for Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Polaris) in Botswana leave them only five points in arrears, with early season pacesetters Leander Pienaar and Stephan Marais (Can-Am Maverick) another seven points behind.

In the SA Manufacturers Championship it is no surprise to see Toyota (279) well in control. They have a massive 128 point advantage over Ford (151) with BMW (57) third and narrowly ahead of Nissan (51) in the standings.

The next event on the Donaldson Cross Country Championship calendar is the Force Fuel 450 at Sun City in the Pilanesberg on August 8 and 9.

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