Huxtable in the hunt

Toy­ota’s iconic Desert 1000 race in Botswana will change co-driv­ers’ stand­ings

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - CHARMAIN FOR­TUNE

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).

PHOTO: NA­DIA JOR­DAAN

Mar­itzburg Ranger rac­ers Lance Wool­ridge and Ward Huxtable lead Class T in SA’s cross coun­try cham­pi­onship.

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