Vos/Howie score 2nd win for the Castrol Toyota Hilux team

Monday, 21st May 2012

The Team  Castrol Toyota  pair  of  Duncan Vos  and  Rob  Howie  scored  their second win in a row and increased their lead in the overall Production Vehicle and  premier  SP  Class championships  with  a  commanding  performance in  the  Atlas  Copco  Timbertrack  400, round  three  of  the  ABSA  Off  Road Championship, which ended in Richmond on Saturday.

Former South African champion Vos and Howie, in a Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, came home 2 minutes and 24 seconds ahead of Gary Bertholdt and Ralph Pitchford in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux. Vos/Howie started behind team-mates  Anthony  Taylor  and  Chris  Birkin,  who  won  the Donaldson Prologue  to determine race grid positions, but were quickly into  the lead when the second Castrol Hilux picked up a puncture.

It was a lead Vos and Howie were never to relinquish as they went on to dominate a race cut short by sporadic drizzle, mist and fog. The conditions forced race officials to cut out a chunk of the second of the two 175 kilometre loops that made up the race.

Third place went to local favourite Alfie Cox and German co-driver Jurgen Schroder (PS Laser Nissan Navara) with Taylor and Birkin holding on for fourth place, their pace being further affected by a brake problem.

“We are very happy,” said Toyota Motorsport team principal Glyn Hall. “It was a dominant performance from Duncan and Rob who were in control of the race from the moment they went into the lead.

“For their part Anthony and Chris came up with a gutsy performance and scored useful championship points. Although he was feeling under par Anthony stuck to his guns and it was a professional performance. It was a very difficult route and with the race run in tricky conditions both crews deserve praise.”

Ferdi  de  Vos,  Toyota  South  Africa’s  General  Manager  for  motorsport,  congratulated  the Atlas  Copco  Hilux  crew  Gary Berthold and Ralph Pitchford on their performance. “Being runners up in their Hilux V8 in only their third outing together is a fantastic result, made even more so by achieving it in their own event.”

“The contribution by privateer Toyota crews in the national off-road series cannot be underestimated in our efforts to win the manufacturer’s challenge,” he added.

Toyota took a second victory when Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn, in the Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser, won Class D. The Horns came in ahead of championship leaders Cliff Weichelt and Johann Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) who suffered from a spate of punctures.

For  the  second  race  in  a  row  Toyota  won  the Manufacturer’s Award but an act of sportsmanship denied  it  another  clean sweep  of  category  wins. Local crew Rowan Lamb and Lyle Parker (Ford Ranger) won  Class  E  ahead  of  championship  leaders  Dirk Putter  and Koos  Claasens  (Elite  Toyota  Hilux),  but they stopped to help former SA champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald Elegant Fuel BAT) who ran into alternator  problems  and  were  blocking the road, while leading the class.

The time lost saw Putter/Claasens, who won the first two events of the season, finish less than 25 seconds behind the KwaZulu-Natal crew.

The next race in the ABSA championship is the Toyota 1000  Desert  Race,  the  only  marathon event  on  the calendar, in Botswana from June 22 to 24.


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