toy­ota scores a white­wash

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - DOWN&DIRTY - Pho­tos: Sup­plied

There was a time when Lady Luck used to give Toy­ota a real hard time in the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race, SA’s premier cross-coun­try race, spon­sored by Toy­ota. The team would lead, only to fall foul of some small is­sue, with another man­u­fac­turer storm­ing through to take a fa­mous vic­tory. How times have changed. In this year’s Desert Race, Toy­ota recorded an em­phatic clean sweep of the podium in the pro­duc­tion class.

Three days and a to­tal of 1 000km of Harry Flat­ters driv­ing through the African bush. This is the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race, held in the Jwa­neng area in Botswana. It’s the head­line act of the South African Cross Coun­try Rac­ing se­ries, and also serves as the third round of the 2018 Road to Dakar chal­lenge.

The race started with a 40km pro­logue test on the Fri­day morn­ing, to de­ter­mine the start­ing po­si­tions for the first 400km race day, on the Satur­day. It turned out to be one for the books, as two top crews set ex­actly the same time.

Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA’s reign­ing cham­pi­ons Giniel de Villiers and Den­nis Mur­phy clocked a time of 28:40; a time per­fectly matched by Dakar quad leg­end Brian Barag­wanath and Leonard Cre­mer (Cen­tury Rac­ing CR5 Class FIA buggy).

How­ever, be­cause the Hilux V8 crew set the time first, they were awarded the num­ber one start­ing po­si­tion for Satur­day’s race. The sec­ond Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA Hilux, pi­loted by Henk Late­gan and Barry White, fin­ished third, 22 sec­onds be­hind.

On the Satur­day, De Villiers/Mur­phy started first, but had the task of clear­ing the road and find­ing the cor­rect route, with no clear tracks to fol­low.

It wasn’t long be­fore Late­gan/White took the lead, pulling out a gap over their team­mates, with De Villiers/ Mur­phy hav­ing some nav­i­ga­tion is­sues. Mean­while, the Cen­tury Rac­ing CR5 also had prob­lems, drop­ping off the pace.

But another Toy­ota team was on a charge: reign­ing Class T cham­pi­ons Jo­han and Werner Horn (Malalane Toy­ota Hilux V8) were mix­ing it up with Late­gan and White in the fac­tory FIA-spec­i­fi­ca­tion Hilux V8, the pri­va­teer team even lead­ing the rally at one point.

On the day’s sec­ond loop, prop­shaft prob­lems saw the Malalane Hilux drop down the field, and Late­gan and White fin­ished the day ahead of their team­mates De Villiers/Mur­phy.

Two loops of around 240km re­mained on the last day and, as is al­ways the case in the desert, the race is never done un­til it is done. Tak­ing off from a road cross­ing, Late­gan’s Hilux lost all drive to the wheels and he was forced to park the Toy­ota. This left De Villiers in the lead and he man­aged the gap be­tween him­self and the sec­ond­placed Horn broth­ers, who had a great race.

Third over­all were Gary Bertholdt and Ge­off Min­nit (Class T At­las Copco Toy­ota Hilux V8), en­sur­ing a podium white­wash for event ti­tle spon­sors, Toy­ota.

The 2018 Road to Dakar chal­lenge was won by Terence Marsh and Ri­aan Greyling (Red-Lined Mo­tor­sport Nis­san Navara V8). The team won a free en­try into the 2019 Dakar Rally to the value of about R400 000.

Round four of the South African Cross County Rac­ing Se­ries takes place over the first week­end of Au­gust in the Bronkhorstspruit area, on the bor­der be­tween Gaut­eng and Mpumalanga.

Main: Giniel de Villiers and Den­nis Mur­phy (Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA Toy­ota Hilux) on their way to another vic­tory. Top in­sert, left: Terence Marsh and Ri­aan Greyling (Red-Lined Mo­tor­sport Nis­san Navara V8) scored a free en­try to the 2019 Dakar Rally....

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