Huxtable in the hunt
Toyota’s iconic Desert 1000 race in Botswana will change co-drivers’ standings
REIGNING South African champion and Dakar Rally legend Giniel de Villiers and the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team are old hands when it comes to topping championship tables.
With that in mind it is no surprise to see de Villiers and the Toyota squad in familiar roles.
De Villiers has scored back to back wins in the two events so far this season in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), and heads both the Production Vehicle category overall and FIA Class drivers’ championships.
The Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team has, however, stepped in to steal a little Toyota thunder.
De Villiers has used two codrivers — reigning champion Dennis Murphy and former champion Rob Howie — in events this season with Murphy replacing the injured Howie at the recent Battlefields 400 in KwaZulu-Natal.
This has led to Murphy and Howie both trailing Class T competitor Ward Huxtable in the pecking order in the overall co-drivers’ championship.
Huxtable has a six-point advantage over Murphy, 16 points in hand over Howie and a 26point lead over current Class T champion and arch rival Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Hilux: but Lance Woolridge has also stepped up to the plate to dilute a little Toyota early season bragging.
Woolridge and Huxtable, in the Ford NWM Ranger, also have two class wins this season and that has lifted the Ford man into second place in the overall drivers’ championship. Here he is ahead of Henk Lategan (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) and Johan Horn in the Malalane Toyota Hilux.
The minor places in the overall driver/co-driver stakes are close but the next event on the SACCS calendar is the iconic Toyota 1 000 Desert Race in Botswana, and the shifting sands desert conditions are likely to lead to considerable changes in the only marathon event of the season. The form Woolridge and Huxtable have shown over the first two events of the season has opened a handy 25-point lead over the Horn brothers.
But Toyota are poised to take the manufactuers trophy with a 103 point lead over Ford (61) with Renault (15), Nissan (13) and BMW (7).
Maritzburg Ranger racers Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable lead Class T in SA’s cross country championship.