Toyota’s Castrol Toyota Motorsport off-roaders are set and ready for another full house of victories in the Sugarbelt 400, second round of the Bankfin Off-Road championship, after making a clean sweep in the opening Barberspan 500 event in March this year. -

- Toyota’s works team and works-supported teams took the overall Barberspan 500 Production Vehicle victory as well as class honours in Class T, Class D and Class E. -

- Castrol Land Cruisers took the top two classes and the overall victory while the lone Castrol Condor RV 4x4 driven by rally and off-road veteran Kassie Coetzee with the aid of navigator Ockie Fourie took their first win in Class E. -

- “We were hoping to debut our new Class T Castrol Land Cruiser in this weekend’s Nissan Sugarbelt 400, but we were still waiting for some essential gearbox parts two weeks before the event and made the critical decision to get the Barberspan 500 winning vehicle into shape for another attack,” Toyota Motorsport Manager Whammy Haddad said. -

- The Barberspan 500 winning vehicle is essentially identical except for some engine refinements for even better performance. -

- “We only fine-tuned the engine and found a bit more power – only a kilowatt here and half a Newton-metre there, but every little bit helps,” said Haddad. -

- The 4,5-litre six cylinder power plant was developed for the new 2002 Castrol Land Cruiser towards the end of the 2001 season, and used in the last event of last year as well as in the first of the new season – both times with growing success. -

- Robin Houghton, who navigates the car for Apie Reyneke, said the “old” car has been completely rebuilt and very well prepared for the Sugarbelt with its tough new route. -

- “We were quite pleased with the pace in the last race, although we must admit that we did have a bit of luck on our side in the Barberspan 500.” he said. -

- “The new gearbox however would have made a big difference,” he added. The Castrol Land Cruisers all use standard Toyota Land Cruiser five-speed manual gearboxes, but a special close-ratio gearbox will be fitted to the new Class T vehicle. -

- The team has also sorted out the problems experienced by defending Class D champions Shumie van Vuuren and Fanie Kotze in their near-standard Land Cruiser which broke two gearboxes on the Barberspan 500 – one during the time trial and the replacement gearbox in the race proper. -

- “We rebuilt the engine to ensure whatever vibration there was that caused the damage to the gearbox, has been eliminated,” explained Haddad. -

- The Class D Barberspan 500-winning Castrol Land Cruiser, driven by Piet Haasbroek with the help of navigator Christo Bosch, has also been rebuilt and thoroughly prepped for the Sugarbelt event after winning the first event of the 2002 season and finishing third overall. -

- A lot of work has also been done to the Class E Castrol Condor of Coetzee and Fourie after taking their very first win in the Barberspan 500. Last year they ran out of fuel on the Nissan Sugarbelt after a broken drive-shaft hit a hole in the petrol tank, but a few changes have been made to the vehicle to prevent a repeat of the bad luck that robbed them of what could have their first class victory then. -

- “We are confident of again doing extremely well, but the Sugarbelt event will be even tougher than the opening Barberspan 500 or even last year’s Sugarbelt,” Haddad added. “The route is mostly new, so we have no advantage there. Last year our Class T vehicle suffered a broken front suspension when a bolt gave way while Reyneke was lying second and with the finish in sight, but we made sure it was thick enough this time round… -

- A new privately entered Hilux is expected to make its debut in Class T, aiming for top honours. The Hilux, built by performance specialist Roger Taylor, will be driven by ex-touring car pilot Anthony Taylor with Charles Wolmarans in the hot navigator’s seat. -

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