Ac­tion in the desert

De Vil­liers comes out tops in tough and tight race

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - CHARMAINE FOR­TUNE

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.

Up­com­ing events

Au­gust 3 to 4, Bronkhorstpruit 400. Au­gust 4, North­ern Re­gions Round 5. Au­gust 11, KZN Un­der­berg. Septem­ber 14 to 15, Har­ri­smith 400.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

Dakar Rally ex­pert Giniel de Vil­liers and his nav­i­ga­tor Den­nis Murphy led a 1-2-3 win for Toy­ota in the Desert 1000.

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