The Castrol Toyota Hilux factory supported off-road team is ready for the fifth round of the Absa Off-road Championship, the Lesotho Sun 400, in Maseru on August 20 and 21.
The Toyota teams go to Lesotho in a positive frame of mind and are confident of at least two class wins. The father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn currently lead Class E in their privately-entered Castrol Toyota Hilux 2700i, and will be going to go all out to retain their position at the top of the leaderboard.
The De Bruyns have won three of the four events so far this season, and are placed fourth in the overall Production Vehicle championship.
Mark Cronjé and Chris Birkin, in the Team Castrol Toyota Hilux 2,7i, who have finished all events this season, are currently in third place in Class D, a class for near-standard production vehicles with engines of up to six cylinders. The pair lost the championship lead after running into mechanical problems on the Sun City 400, and are champing at the bit to get back to the top of the log.
Paolo Piazza-Musso and Rod Hering (Team Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i), scored valuable points at the Sun City 400 and are currently placed fourth in Class D. The pair are also just outside the top 10 in the overall points table.
Gavin Cronjé, together with multiple SA navigators champion Robin Hougton, is gaining valuable experience in each event in the Class E Team Castrol Toyota Hilux 2700i. Like his older brother Cronje is highly talented and a win on the Lesotho 400 is well within his grasp.
Zane Pearce and Hennie Vosloo in their Castrol Hilux KZ-TE are placed just ahead of the Cronjé/Houghton combination in the Class E championship. Pearce joined the team for the first time this season and has been developing the vehicle.
He will be pulling out all the stops for the remaining races in the 2004 season.
Other privateer Toyota teams to look out for include Hein Moolman and Cecil Fincham who won Class E on the Sun City 400, while Cliff Weichelt and his son, Louis, also scored points in their new N1 4x4 Hilux that they have swapped for a Toyota Land Cruiser station wagon.
Toyota Motorsport Manager Whammy Haddad said he was confident the teams could conquer the Lesotho mountains. “The teams are looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “Only Robin and Chris have competed in Roof of Africa events, so it is going to be a new experience for everyone else.”