The Castrol Team Toyota Hilux bakkies of Anthony Taylor/Chris Birkin and Duncan Vos/Rob Howie are prepared and tested to fly the Toyota flag in the second round of the Absa Off Road Championship, the Toyota Dealer 400, in Mpumalanga this weekend (April 13 and 14).
After a relatively disappointing opening round, when the two Castrol Toyotas finished fifth and 10thin the RFS Magalies 400 in Gauteng, the Toyota Motorsport team has been hard at it over the past five weeks to ensure that the two Hilux crews have the best possible equipment to tackle what promises to be a challenging event.
“We’ve completed a significant amount of testing since the last event and have made quite a few changes to bring the two bakkies back to a set-up that is better suited to South African conditions after their success in South America in the Dakar Rally,” said team principal Glyn Hall. The two Toyotas finished third and 10th in the hands of Giniel de Villiers and Duncan Vos respectively, while a third Hilux built by Toyota Motorsport and driven by Argentine privateer Lucio Alvarez was fifth overall.
Despite running in close-to-Dakar Rally spec on the RFS Magalies 400 in March, both Castrol Toyotas were very much on the pace and were only prevented from achieving better results by a poor prologue showing and punctures during the race.
Taylor and Birkin destroyed their Toyota’s right front wheel and suspension on the prologue after hitting a large rock concealed in long grass, failing to finish the prologue and having to start the race near the back of the field as a result. They still managed to overcome a lowly 24th start position among the production vehicles, a puncture and a broken brake pipe during the race to finish 10th.
Vos started the race in 10th place among the production vehicles after an over-cautious prologue and overcame two punctures during the race to finish fifth.
The Toyota Dealer 400 will be headquartered at the new, state-of-the-art Lydenburg Toyota premises on the road from Lydenburg to the Long Tom Pass with the designated service point.
There are also changes to the race route, which will be run over two loops of some 175 kilometres on Saturday starting at 08.30 and finishing at Lydenburg Toyota, with a brand new 75-kilometre mountainous section that should prove to be a stern test of the country’s top off road racers.
Friday’s Donaldson Prologue to determine the start order for the race will cover a 60-kilometre route, starting from Lydenburg Toyota at 12.30 and ending on the Roossenekal road about 30 kilometres from Lydenburg.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.