The Toyota 1000 Desert Race, of which the latest event was held in Gaborone this past weekend, is said to be one of the toughest stages of the Absa South African Off-road Championship. And no team would agree more with this than Castrol Toyota.
With a win in Friday’s prologue race and, after taking the lead at the end of Saturday’s two 245 km loops, Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin seemed to be the favourites in their factory-sponsored Toyota Hilux. However, things started to slip about 17 km from the end.
According to Taylor, “as the finish got nearer we were starting to believe that we might make up for the disappointment of losing last year’s race while leading. Then, about 40 km out, we lost rear-wheel drive and soon after also drive to the right front wheel. When we arrived at a tricky dry river crossing with a very steep entry and exit, we knew that we were in trouble. We tried to power our way through, but with one-wheel drive it just didn’t work.”
The Toyota team’s bad luck was the good fortune of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in their Ford Ranger TDCi, who didn’t have the greatest start on Saturday when a turbo pipe on their vehicle came lose. Visser and Badenhorst finished a mere eight minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the second-place finishers.
The podium was completed by Visser’s brother Jannie and Joks le Roux in the International Toyota Hilux. Terence Marsh and George Smalberger took fourth in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara, while Malcolm Kock and Johann Burger used their Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux to claim fifth, Hugo and Jaap de bruyn (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) came in sixth ahead of Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS BMW X3) and three-time winner Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the second Team Castrol Toyota.
Class D was won by father and son pair Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover. They were closely followed by Louis Weichelt and Francis Boersma (N1 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser). The Oosthuizens extended their lead and also received a bit of a boost when reigning champions Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) were forced to retire on the second day.
Piet Kotze and Salomon Victor (Toyota Hilux) won Class E ahead of the debut team of Jason Venter and Vincent van Alleman in the 4×4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux.
Reigning South African champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) won the Special Vehicle Category.
The next round of the Absa Off-road Championship is the Sun City 400 on 29 and 30 July.