Poul­ter, Howie take charge with solid win at Nko­mazi 450

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

CUR­RENT Don­ald­son Cross­Coun­try Cham­pi­onship lead­ers Leeroy Poul­ter and nav­i­ga­tor Rob Howie ex­tended their lead at the top of the ta­ble with a win on the Nko­mazi 450, round four of the six-round cham­pi­onship.

The pair have so far dom­i­nated the 2015 sea­son, hav­ing now won three of the sea­son’s four races, as well as the first heat of the gru­elling Toy­ota 1 000 Desert Race.

“Leeroy and Rob have re­ally stepped up and taken charge of this sea­son,” beamed team prin­ci­pal Glyn Hall af­ter the race fin­ished at the Riverview Prepara­tory School in the Mpumalanga town of Malalane.

“The win here in Malalane puts them in a very strong po­si­tion for the cham­pi­onship.”

Poul­ter/Howie are now well clear of team-mates An­thony Tay­lor and nav­i­ga­tor Dennis Mur­phy, who re­tain their sec­ond place in the cham­pi­onship de­spite not fin­ish­ing the Nko­mazi 450. The pair suf­fered dam­age to the steer­ing of the Cas­trol Team Toy­ota Hilux af­ter swerv­ing to avoid a stricken fel­low com­peti­tor and hit­ting a rock in the process.

“It was a dis­ap­point­ing week­end for An­thony and Dennis, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that they qual­i­fied in such a strong po­si­tion, and were all but match­ing Leeroy and Rob’s pace dur­ing the race,” con­tin­ued Hall.

The two Cas­trol Team Toy­ota Hilux race ve­hi­cles qual­i­fied in first and sec­ond place dur­ing the pro­logue of the Nko­mazi 450 — a qual­i­fy­ing race over a dis­tance of 100 km, used to de­ter­mine the start­ing or­der for the main event.

Poul­ter/Howie went fastest of all on the day, and as a re­sult pulled away 1:32 ahead of Tay­lor/ Mur­phy. De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Tay­lor/Mur­phy ini­tially lost a bit of time to the fly­ing Poul­ter/ Howie, but then man­aged to sta­bilise that gap to roughly five min­utes for the bulk of the race. Dis­as­ter struck dur­ing the sec­ond loop of the 350 km-long race, and the Tay­lor/Mur­phy were forced to re­tire.

It wasn’t all plain sail­ing for Poul­ter/Howie ei­ther, de­spite win­ning by nearly 20 min­utes over Jur­gen Schröder and nav­i­ga­tor Max Schröder (Nissan Navara). On the sec­ond loop of the race, the pair picked up a length of barbed wire fenc­ing, to­gether with four steel drop­pers, that be­came en­tan­gled around the left rear wheel of their ve­hi­cle. They suf­fered a punc­ture as a re­sult, and strug­gled to get the new tyre onto the wheel hub, as the barbed wire was in the way.

“The wire was so tightly wrapped around the wheel and drive shaft that we couldn’t get it un­tan­gled. We just man­aged to re­place the tyre and off we went — hop­ing for the best. As it turned out our lead was big enough to al­low us to slow down some­what, and make sure we got home safely.”

Fol­low the for­tunes of Cas­trol Team Toy­ota on motorsport. toy­ota.co.za • The next round in the Don­ald­son Cross-Coun­try Cham­pi­onship is the Vry­burg En­duro, which takes place on Septem­ber 11 and 12 around the North West province town of Vry­burg. The route cov­ers nearly 650 km — the sec­ond of the 2015 sea­son’s so­called en­durance rounds. — Supplied.

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

De­fend­ing cross-coun­try cham­pi­ons An­thony Tay­lor and Dennis Mur­phy led for the bulk of the Nko­mazi 450, but a swerve to hit a rock in­stead of a driver forced them to re­tire in the sec­ond loop of the 350 km-long race.

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