Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Castrol Team Toyota Hilux) won the Ford Dealer 400, penultimate round of the Donaldson Cross Country Car Racing Championship, at Thaba Nchu in the Free State on Saturday, while team-mates Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy finished fourth and scored enough points to clinch the 2013 championship for production vehicles with a round remaining.
Vos and Howie’s victory, their first this season, extended a winning Castrol Team Toyota streak to five, with Taylor and Murphy having won the other four on their way to their first and Toyota’s 16th championship.
Taylor, who finished second in last year’s championship, and Murphy, who only joined Toyota Motorsport this year for his first season as a national championship co-driver, looked headed for their fifth successive win after taking the honours in Friday’s qualifying race. They lost their lead towards the end of the first of the two 170-kilometre loops that made up Saturday’s race after they thought they’d strayed from the route and doubled back, only to find they had been correct in the first place. Then they picked up a puncture in the dust of the vehicles that passed them, dropping them back to sixth place at the halfway compulsory service stop at Thaba Nchu
They put in an impressive charge in the second loop, recording the fastest time and closing to within two seconds of third-placed Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable.
“Dennis and I knew we had a good chance of wrapping up the championship today and we’re ecstatic about pulling it off with a race still to go,” said Taylor, who has now added cross country racing to the numerous single seater and production car circuit racing national titles he has accumulated in his career.
“We had to push really hard after our problems in the first half of the race and it’s a big relief to have done enough to win our first title. Dennis and I have worked well together, the Hilux has been awesome all season and the back-up from the technical crew has been the best.”
It was a dominant performance by Toyota on a traditionally tight and technical event that was run in hot, dry and dusty conditions with veld fires in an area that hasn’t seen rain since January.
Team principal Glyn Hall was full of praise for both of his crews. “This is a brilliant result for the entire team,” he said. “Everyone did a great job and we again proved that the Hilux is the vehicle to beat. Congratulations to Anthony and Dennis on their championship and well done to Duncan and Rob, who fully deserved their win today. A big thank-you also to the Toyota privateers, who again contributed to our winning the manufacturers’ championship.”
Outgoing champions Vos and Howie were delighted with their win after a trouble-free race. “We had a perfect run today. No problems with the Hilux and Rob was faultless with finding the correct route,” said Vos. “Cross country racing is so competitive that if you want to win you can’t afford to make any mistakes or even have a puncture. Today we did what we had to do. Congratulations to Anthony and Dennis – they thoroughly deserved their championship victory.”
In addition to Vos and Howie winning the premier class SP, Toyota privateers finished first and second in both classes D and E. Brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Toyota Land Cruiser) won class D ahead of Jason Venter and Vincent van Alleman (Toyota Hilux) while Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Toyota Hilux) won class E ahead of Johan Pretorius and Gesina Dauth (Toyota Hilux).
Toyota also won the manufacturers’ team award for the event and scored enough points in the overall manufacturers’ championship to ensure its sixth successive title and seventh in the 12 years of the championship.
The final round of the championship is the Atlas Copco 400 in Westonaria on November 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.