The word ‘triumvirate’ stems from ancient Roman times, and describes a group of three men sharing power. Seldom has there been such a fitting word to illustrate a scenario in motorsport – yet the three men that occupy the top three positions in the 2014 Donaldson Cross Country Championship are undeniably the men who currently wield all the power in this highly competitive sport. And tellingly, all three of them are Toyota Hilux drivers.
All three of them will be in action in this weekend’s Atlas Copco 450, the final round of the 2014 Donaldson Cross Country Championship. The race, which takes place on 28 and 29 November, in western Gauteng, will be the scene of the final battle for this year’s title – and what a battle it promises to be.
After six of the seven rounds that now make up the 2014 Championship – one round was cancelled earlier in the year – it is defending champion Anthony Taylor (Castrol Team Toyota Hilux), with navigator Dennis Murphy beside him, who leads the way. The pair has banked 119 points so far this season and are 14 points clear of their nearest competitors.
These competitors come in the form of brothers Johan (driver) and Werner Horn (navigator), who campaign the ex-works Malalane Toyota Hilux. And what a campaign it has been! The brothers have scored points in each round of the championship so far, recording their maiden victory on the Force Fuel 450 at Sun City in August.
Just twelve points behind them is Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie, in the second Castrol Team Toyota Hilux. It is Poulter’s first full year in the championship, though he has racked up many hours campaigning a similar spec Toyota Hilux on the grueling Dakar Rally, in which the pair competed in January this year. While his first Cross Country win remains elusive, Poulter has recorded a host of competitive results in 2014, and although the overall title is out of his grasp, a good finish on the upcoming Atlas Copco 450 may just see him snatch second place from the Horn brothers.
“The good news for us is that no matter what happens, Toyota will walk away with the title,” says Castrol Team Toyota Team Principal Glyn Hall. “With that said, it would be great for the team if Anthony could make it two championships on the trot.”
Poulter was recently crowned South African National Rally champion for 2014, after sealing the title on the penultimate round of the championship. He will certainly be aiming to add a second-place in the Cross Country Championship to his tally for the year.
In Class S, for production race vehicles with engines up to 4,000 cc and solid rear axles, Ruwacon Racing’s veteran driver Jannie Visser, with navigator Joks le Roux (Toyota Hilux) currently leads the championship. Just eight points separate Visser from Deon Venter in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux, who is lying second in the standings.
This weekend’s action gets under way at 11:30 on Friday morning, with a qualifying race of 100 km. The outcome of this race determines the start positions for the main event, which kicks off at 08:30 on Saturday morning. The race HQ will be at the Kloof Country Club, with most of the race taking place around Hillshaven, South Deep and Kalbasfontein.
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, 4x4 Mega World, FreeM, NGK, Robor, SKF and Spanjaard.