Championship leaders Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Castrol Team Toyota Hilux) hold the advantage going into the penultimate round of the Absa South African Off Road Car Championship in the Free State on Friday and Saturday.
Vos, seeking his fifth drivers’ title, and co-driver Rob Howie have already won three times this year in six races and victory in the Human Auto 400 at Thaba ‘Nchu will wrap up both the overall and the class SP championships for them.
Only two rivals can realistically catch them, 2010 champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger) and Castrol Toyota team-mates Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin. The Ford pair trails by 24,5 points, while Taylor and Birkin are 35 points behind. A race win is worth 25 points, so there are a maximum of 50 points on offer. In addition, competitors must drop their worst score of the year and if this were to be done now it would benefit Visser/Badenhorst by two points.
Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (BMW X3), who are 41 points in arrears, are still in with a slim mathematical chance.
“Rob and I still have some work to do to win this championship, not the least of which is to beat our team-mates,” said Vos. “It would be our first championship together and, more importantly, it would be the first for the Toyota Hilux. It would be nice to wrap things up this weekend, but we’ll be concentrating on ensuring we finish with as many points as possible in these last two races. The competition is tough and they’ll be coming at us with everything they’ve got.”
Like Vos, Taylor is also a good team player. “From a personal point of view I’d love for Chris and me to win the championship and we’ll be putting in maximum effort this weekend. However, for Toyota it’s important that we take the top two positions in the championship, regardless of which one of us wins overall. We’ll both need to be at our very best to achieve this and we can’t take anything for granted.”
Team principal Glyn Hall is quietly confident. “We have shown throughout the season that we have a strong package and, frankly, with a little more luck, we might have been in an even stronger position going into the last two races.
“There will be no team orders and no heroics. I have complete faith in both crews, who know what’s at stake.”
With a lead of 210 points over nearest rival Ford, Toyota has already secured the manufacturers’ championship for the fifth year in succession.
Toyota privateers have continued to make a significant contribution towards Toyota’s dominance as a brand in off road racing.
Cliff Weichelt and Johann Smalberger lead class D in their Toyota Land Cruiser by 23,5 points and a good result this weekend could clinch the title for them with one round remaining. Similarly, in class E Dirk Putter and Koos Claassens (Toyota Hilux), who enjoy a 34,5-point advantage, are just a few points away from overall victory after five class wins in six races.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors, Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners.
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, IMPERIAL Toyota Group, NGK, Ferodo, SKF, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.