document : Castrol Team Toyota Aiming At 10th Toyota 1000 Desert Race Victory

Castrol Team Toyota Aiming At 10th Toyota 1000 Desert Race Victory
information supplied by: Toyota South Africa - DJ 15 June 2012

The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is the  oldest, longest and toughest event in the off road racing calendar and one that Toyota would dearly love to win again this weekend (June 22, 23 and 24).  Not just because it is the 31st year that Toyota has sponsored the race that it is the jewel in the crown of the Absa South African Off Road Championship, but because it would bring Toyota’s number of wins to 10 and would help wipe out the memory of the marque’s close brush with the milestone decade of wins last year.
Last year Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin came within 17 kilometres of scoring a momentous Toyota victory in the Castrol Team Toyota Hilux, only to falter with a broken sideshaft while leading eventual winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger) by some 10 minutes.  They eventually got going again after replacing the sideshaft in a dry river bed in 18 minutes and finished in second place, 8 min 29 sec behind the winners.
While Taylor and Birkin will be aiming to rectify this, their toughest competition is likely to come from team-mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the second Castrol Team Toyota Hilux.  Vos and Howie currently lead the championship by 21 points from Visser and Badenhorst, with Taylor and Birkin a further three points in arrears in third.  Two successive wins in the last two rounds of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga in April and the Atlas Copco Timbertrack 400 in KwaZulu-Natal in May, have put Vos and Howie in pole position to win what would be Vos’s fourth Toyota Desert Race in six years.  He scored a hat-trick of victories from 2007 to 2009 with Richard Leeke, Louis Weichelt and Ralph Pitchford respectively.  
“We’re confident we have two cars and crews that are capable of winning this weekend’s race,” said Castrol Team Toyota boss Glyn Hall.  “Of course we’re under pressure to win Toyota’s own event, especially after coming so close in last year’s 30th anniversary edition, so we’re leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to add the Toyota Desert Race to our list of victories with the Castrol Toyota Hilux.
“Our cars are in the best shape we’ve ever had them, better than when they went to the Dakar.  Everything we learnt in those 15 days and 8 000 kilometres in South America in January has been analysed and incorporated into these machines.  It’s an ongoing process of testing and development and our results in the last two events have shown that we’re getting closer to our optimum performance.  There’s still more to come and we’re aiming to show some of this progress confident the Toyota Desert Race will prove that we’re the three-day Toyota Desert Race is a great opportunity to see how well we’ve
“It’s a long, tough race with many different challenges to meet and very strong opposition.  With a clean run on all three days in the Botswana desert – which is always a tall ask for any team – we can pull off a Toyota victory and repay the faith shown in us by our principal sponsors Castrol and the Innovation Group and technical partners NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.”
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will again be located in the village of Kumakwane, 25 km west of Gaborone.   The weekend’s action gets underway at 12.30 on Friday (June 22) with the Donaldson Prologue, a time trial to decide the start order for Saturday’s race.  Day one of the race itself will start at 08:30 on Saturday (June 23) with surviving competitors returning to the Kumakwane service park for the overnight halt.
The restart will be at 08:30 on Sunday (June 24) with the finish back at Kumakwane in the afternoon.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.
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