Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Castrol Team Toyota Hilux) were the provisional overall and class SP winners in the Production Vehicle category of the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, which ended in Eston near Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, May 18.
It was their first win of the season and lifted them from fifth to second in the Donaldson South African Cross Country Championship after three rounds.
Team-mates and defending champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie were third overall and in class, completing the two-day 380-kilometre race 1 min 29 sec behind Taylor and Murphy and 50 seconds behind runners-up Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger). They move up from sixth to fourth in the championship. Former champions Visser and Badenhorst lead with 63 points to the 48 of Taylor and Murphy. Vos and Howie have 36 points, one less than third-placed Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger (Toyota Hilux).
Taylor, who started the race 21 seconds behind Visser, took the lead for the first time 34 kilometres into the first of today’s two 156-kilometre loops. Visser stayed within striking distance as the two rival factory drivers opened up a small gap over third-placed Vos in the second of the two Castrol Toyota Hilux 4x4s. At the 123-kilometre mark, with just 33 kilometres to go to the compulsory halfway service stop, Visser was again in the lead.
Pushing hard to gain the all-important advantage of leading into the designated service park at the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club, passed Visser for the second time and led into the service park by 15 seconds. Vos was third, a further 12 seconds in arrears.
Taylor dictated the pace from the front on the second loop and at one stage enjoyed a 1 min 13 sec advantage over Visser. Visser closed the gap to 39 seconds at the finish. Vos, who pushed really hard on the second loop, closing to within 18 sec of Visser at one stage, settled for a comfortable third place in a fast, dry event where dust made overtaking difficult.
Fourth and making up the winning manufacturers’ team were privateers Kock and Burger in their Toyota Hilux, who reached the finish at the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club 21 min 7 sec behind Vos and Howie. Making it four Toyotas in the top five were former champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in another privateer Toyota Hilux.
Toyota privateers again made a valuable contribution to Toyota’s current manufacturers’ championship lead by winning both of the other two Production Vehicle classes. Class D was won by brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Toyota Land Cruiser), while class E honours went to Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers in a Toyota Hilux).
The next round of the championship is the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana on June 21, 22 and 23.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.