Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Class SP Castrol Team Toyota Hilux) produced one of the performances of the day when they finished fifth in the production vehicle category of the RFS Magalies 400 in Tarlton near Krugersdorp today after starting the opening round of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship in 16th place.
Team-mates and 2012 champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie endured a difficult day which saw them start the race third and finish 10th after leading in the early stages.
The race was won by Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in a Ford Ranger with former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst second in another Ranger and Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger third in a Toyota Hilux.
Rising star Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann finished a fine sixth overall and won Class D in a privateer Trysome Racing Toyota Hilux.
Taylor was headed for yet another victory in Friday’s 51-kilometre prologue, leading the next car by 46 seconds, when the Hilux bogged down in soft sand at a road crossing. The delay cost the Toyota pair over six minutes and they found themselves in a very challenging 30th place in the combined field of production and special vehicles for the start of Saturday’s race.
Taylor, arguably the fastest production vehicle driver in SA cross country racing, had already passed four production vehicles and nine special vehicles in the first 60 kilometres of the race to place 12th when his rapid progress through the dust and the field was halted by a puncture. The wheel change cost them several places, but they were up to ninth when they completed the first of the day’s two loops of 156 kilometres and reached the halfway compulsory service stop at the Tarlton International Raceway.
Vos and Howie took the lead of the race at around the 55-kilometre mark, but dropped back to third after encountering a locked farm gate and were forced to find a way around it. They regained the lead a short while later, but dropped back again, this time to seventh. They were fifth at the compulsory halfway service stop, just 1 min 29 sec off the lead, but then suffered a broken drive shaft, which in turn damaged the brakes, at around the 210-kilometre mark. They lost some 26 minutes while making repairs and dropped to 12th place.
“It wasn’t the result we had hoped for,” admitted team principal Glyn Hall. “But it was important that we scored championship points today despite our problems. Both drivers were very happy with their cars’ performance and the latest improvements, including the new suspension that we developed for the Dakar Rally in January.
“We had the pace, so there are no problems there. We’ll be investigating the side shaft problem, which is not a usual occurrence.
“Dennis did a great job in his first event with Anthony. The way Anthony cut through the field this morning in thick dust was a highlight of the race; you can’t do that without great team-work and excellent navigating,” Hall concluded.
The next round will be the new Nkomazi 400 in the Malelane area of the Mpumalanga Lowveld on 12 and 13 April.
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