document : Toyota Crews Build Up A Head Of Steam For Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race

Toyota Crews Build Up A Head Of Steam For Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media) 16 June 2009

Toyota factory and privateer crews are building up a head of steam for the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Gaborone, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, from June 19 to 21.

Toyota have been sponsoring what is regarded as the Comrades Marathon of off road racing since 1981, and would love nothing more than to win their own event. A win for Toyota would also put an end to a string of seven successive Nissan victories.

“Obviously we would love to win this event, and the factory and privateer crews are gearing up for a major effort,” said Toyota Motorsport manager William Haddad. “As far as the Castrol Toyota Hilux factory team is concerned we have again shown we have the pace to beat the other works teams.

“The technical crew has put in a lot of hard work since the last event, and there is plenty of room for optimism. This is the sort of race where if you bring the vehicle home in one piece, you are likely to pick up a good result.”

The Toyota challenge will again be spearheaded by the two factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries in the hands of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton and Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin. Taylor and Houghton led the recent Nissan Sugarbelt 400 by a big margin before being sidelined with mechanical problems and Lategan and Birkin scored a solid fourth.

Lategan, in only his fourth race, will face a baptism of fire in Botswana. The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is the only marathon event on the Absa Off Road Championship calendar, but Lategan has shown he is a quick learner.

There will be solid support for the factory teams from a bevy of SP Class privateers. The consistent Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux), Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn (Micaren Excel Toyota Hilux) and Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) will all fancy their chances of podium or top five finishes.

Visser/Badenhorst and the de Bruyn’s revel in Botswana conditions with the RFS team models of consistency so far this season. Bertholdt/Vermeulen bring with them Special Vehicle experience of the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, and will know exactly what to expect.

George and Sharon Barkhuizen (AIM Toyota Hilux) and Jaco Swanepoel/Keith Solomon, in the IDM Cement Toyota Hilux, will also be looking for solid performances. Also looking for a good result will be young Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Jansen van Vuuren, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, who have been improving with every outing in their first season in the SP Class.

Toyota has so far dominated Classes D and E taking wins in both categories in all three events so far this season. The Toyota teams will be fancied to keep 100 percent records with Cliff and Louis Weichelt (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) looking for their fourth win in a row.

The Weichelt’s also revel in Botswana conditions but could come under pressure from Heinie Strumpher and Hendrik van der Linde in the Micaren Excel Toyota Hilux. Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux D4D) will be looking for a return to top form, and the Toyota contingent could be bolstered by Ramon and Maret Bezuidenhout in a new Toyota Hilux.

The Malelane Toyota pair of Johan and Werner Horn will be out in a Toyota Land Cruiser along with Johan Ferreira and Nico Kotze. Given results so far this season Toyota’s domination looks likely to continue.

It is much the same in Class E where championship leaders Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) have won twice with the other win going to Pikke Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus in a second 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux. Labuschagne and Erasmus will be having their first taste of the Desert and scored their maiden win on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400.

Many fundis, however, will fancy reigning champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux) for the win. The pair are Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race experts and could grind the rest of the opposition into the Botswana sand.

After a couple of disappointing outings Diederik and Danie Hattingh, in the Transcor Toyota Hilux, will be looking for a return to form. All in all Toyota crews will be confident of making it four wins in a row this season.

011 809 2232

Tags | 2009 Toyota 1000 Desert Race, Gaborone | off road news page | Motorsport | Cross Country Commission (Media) |