Dakar hero Giniel wins the Harrismith 400 race
TOYOTA Gazoo Racing’s Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy scored their second win of the season in the Production Vehicle class at the Harrismith 400 on Saturday, while reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen regained their championship lead by winning the Special Vehicles category.
De Villiers followed up his win at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in June, with a comfortable victory that preserved the Gazoo Hilux’s unbeaten record dating back to the 2015 season. Pre-race favourites and championship leaders Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, in the second Dakar-spec Toyota Gazoo Hilux, were forced to retire with a broken gearbox on the second of the 200km loops that made up the Harrismith race.
Joining de Villiers on the podium were the two Ford NWM Puma Lubricants Rangers of Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable, who finished first and second in Class T, to put championship pressure on Johan and Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Hilux. The Horn brothers led the championship going into the event, and finished fourth in class and fifth overall behind former South African champion Chris Visser and Philip Herselman in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux.
Hutchinson, in the King Price Extreme BAT Viper, nearly didn’t finish after suffering a blown engine on the second 200km lap. Still, he limped home in first place with an oil light on for the final 20km. He was followed home five minutes later by Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse, in the Live Lesotho Chenowth, in second place. Third in Special Vehicles went to the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne, in the 4x4 Mega World Porter.
The fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) is the Sun City 400, scheduled for September 15 and 16 at the holiday resort in the North West province.
The Gazoo Toyota Hilux is unbeaten in local offroad racing since 2015.