Action in the desert
De Villiers comes out tops in tough and tight race
THE Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round three of the 2018 South African Cross Country Championship, again claimed its share of victims in a tough and tight race over three days and 1 000 kilometres that tested man and machine.
It was, however, the Dakar Rally expert Giniel de Villiers and his navigator Dennis Murphy who came out tops with their Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux to conquer the demanding Botswana desert overall for the second consecutive year.
A victory for De Villiers/Murphy also ensured that Toyota continued their winning streak at this iconic event with a seventh straight win while De Villiers/ Murphy claimed their hat-trick of wins this season. Another bonus was a 1-2-3 for Toyota in the Production Vehicle Category while they also walked away with the laurels in the FIA Class, Class T, Class S and the Manufacturers award.
“It was rough and fast and it’s always good to win,” De Villiers said on Sunday after receiving the chequered flag at the Jwaneng sports complex.
Class T leaders were Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (NWM Ford Ranger did not finish on the final day due to the transfer case failing on their Ford Ranger 29 kilometres into the final loop).
Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Ranger) were fifth on Saturday, but lost time when they ran out of fuel about 10 kilometres before DSP on the final day. They finished the race in 10th place and fifth in Class T.
After finishing the first heat on Saturday in eighth place in the Production Vehicle category, Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) clawed their way up the leader board to finish second in Class T and third overall. They showed real sportsmanship when they helped fellow competitors Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Elf Renault Duster) back on their wheels after a roll during the final section of the race. Bertholdt/Minnitt were followed by the Brazilian team in the NWM Ford Ranger, and Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea who also rounded off the Class T podium.
The Class S victory went to Heinie Strumpher/Henri Hugo (Toyota Hilux) who led the class by posting the fastest qualifying time on Friday. They were 10th overall after Saturday’s racing section and a class win in both heats and final fifth place overall earned them a healthy amount of points, making their TDR 1000 experience worthwhile.
The Class S winners were in a battle for overall results with Terence Marsh/ Riaan Greyling (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara) and just pipped them on the final results. Marsh/Greyling worked hard for their well-deserved second place in the FIA Class and finished sixth overall after a tough 1 000 kilometres. The pair also won the sought-after Road to Dakar Challenge, which gives them a free entry into the world’s toughest motorsport event.
Behind them, desert race stalwart Jannie Visser and his son Chris (Toyota Hilux) finished second in Class S after a trouble-free weekend, with David Huddy/Gerhardt Schutte (Nissan Navara), rounding off the Class S podium and in eighth place on the overall standings.
The 27th running of the distinguished Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race under the Toyota banner, regarded as the toughest cross-country event in southern Africa, tested competitors over 1 000 kilometres, and those who survived were rewarded with well-earned points towards the various championships.
August 3 to 4, Bronkhorstpruit 400. August 4, Northern Regions Round 5. August 11, KZN Underberg. September 14 to 15, Harrismith 400.
Dakar Rally expert Giniel de Villiers and his navigator Dennis Murphy led a 1-2-3 win for Toyota in the Desert 1000.