Mpumalanga 1000 day one summary

MIXED FORTUNES FOR TOYOTA ON DAY ONE OF TOYOTA DEALER 1000 It was a day of mixed fortunes for Castrol Toyota Hilux crews on the opening day of the Toyota Dealer 1000, penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, which started in ...

MIXED FORTUNES FOR TOYOTA ON DAY ONE OF TOYOTA DEALER 1000

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Castrol Toyota Hilux crews on the opening day of the Toyota Dealer 1000, penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, which started in Lydenburg today.

The biggest disappointment for the Toyota contingent was the early demise of Class D title contenders Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin. The pair rolled down a mountainside on the first leg between Lydenburg and Sabie, and retired on the spot.

Cronje was later taken to hospital in Nelspruit for observation and treatment for possible concussion.

"I don't remember a thing," said Cronje at race headquarters in Lydenburg before being taken to hospital. "It's very disappointing but hopefully the other guys will produce the results."

The two other Castrol Toyota Hilux crews competing in Class D - Cronje's younger brother Gavin and Robin Houghton, and Paolo Piazza-Musso and Ockie Fourie - reported near trouble free runs. Both crews, however, adopted a cautious approach.

"Conditions were tricky with mist a problem early on, so it made sense to take it cautiously," said Houghton. "You don't win an event like this on day one, so we are happy."

Class E leaders Zane Pearce and Hennie Vosloo also reported a trouble free run. Pearce has a 100 percent finish record so far this season, and was more than happy to get through the opening day unscathed.

"There is still a long way to go, and there was no point in pushing too hard today," he said.

Toyota Motorsport manager Wammy Haddad was in phlegmatic mood at the end of the day. "Mark's accident was unfortunate, but these things happen," he said.

"It is from here that the going will really get tough. The other crews look to be in good shape, so there is still a lot of optimism in the ranks."

-msa-

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Series Other rally