Castrol Team Toyota’s Duncan Vos and Anthony Taylor, driving Toyota Hilux bakkies in the premier Super Production class, finished first and second in the 31st Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, which ended near Gaborone this afternoon. It was Vos’s fourth win in the longest and toughest race in the off road calendar.
For Vos and co-driver Rob Howie it was their third successive victory in their Castrol Toyota Hilux in the 2012 Absa Off Road Championship and extended their lead in the championship. It was also the second time Vos, a four-time national off road champion, has scored a hat-trick of wins in the national championship.
Taylor and co-driver Chris Birkin also finished second in last year’s Toyota Desert Race and are now second in the championship.
Privateers Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo (Toyota Hilux) finished fifth overall and fifth in the SP class and combined with Vos/Howie and Taylor/Birkin to secure the manufacturers’ award for Toyota. Thanks to the efforts of other Toyota privateers, Toyota increased their lead in the overall manufacturers’ championship.
The gap between Vos and Taylor at the finish was just 35 seconds after three days and almost 1 000 kilometres of hard racing in the thick bush and sand of the Botswana desert. Third-placed Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (BMW X3) crossed the finish line at Kumakwane, 25 kilometres from Gaborone, 15 min 45 seconds behind the winners. Fourth was the factory Ford Ranger of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, 15 min 58 sec behind the winning Toyota.
Privateer Toyota Land Cruisers finished first and second in class D in the hands of Louis Weichelt and Maret Bezuidenhout and Louis’ father Cliff and Johann Smalberger, who finished ninth and 12th overall and were separated at the end by 48 min and 18 sec.
Class E for four-cylinder production vehicles was also the preserve of Toyota, with the Hilux bakkies of Dirk Putter/Jacobus Claassens and Diederick Hattingh/Kristo Bosman surviving the punishing race and finishing in 14th and 16th places among the 16 finishers. There were 27 starters.
“It was a great weekend for us,” acknowledged a delighted Vos in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic Batswana fans at the finish in Kumakwane. “It was very important for Toyota to win this race and there was a lot of pressure on us to deliver this result today. We’re ecstatic to win. A big ‘thank-you’ to our hard-working technical team for all their hard work and giving me a car that didn’t miss a beat throughout the three days.”
Howie reported that they had enjoyed a clean run throughout the final day and had taken full advantage of being able to dictate the race from the front. “This result helps our championship campaign as it counts points and a half.”
Taylor remarked, “This is an outstanding victory for Toyota, which should have happened last year. It was a tough route with lots of challenges for the unwary, as always. Racing at the head of the field with Duncan and Rob after a good prologue on Friday was a big help as it allowed us to avoid the dust, although we had to open the route through the bush and the sand on the opening sections on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to the Botswana fans for all their support.”
Team principal Glyn Hall, recovering from a champagne shower administered by his celebrating team, was both relieved and delighted. “It’s taken us a bit longer to win this great race than we would have liked, but we’ve made great progress with the Toyota Hilux since we started in 2010. Now it’s shown its true capability in the Toyota Desert Race, the toughest challenge in southern Africa, after a faultless performance by not only the two crews, but also by both cars.”
The next round of the championship is the Sun City 400 in North West Province on July 27 and 28.
Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK,IMPERIAL Toyota Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.