DISAPPOINTMENT FOR TOYOTA ON AMATHOLE 500 Although the Toyota teams suffered some dissapointment on the recent Amathole 500, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, Toyota Motorsport Manager Wamy Haddad is upbeat about a weekend that ...
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR TOYOTA ON AMATHOLE 500
Although the Toyota teams suffered some dissapointment on the recent Amathole 500, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, Toyota Motorsport Manager Wamy Haddad is upbeat about a weekend that promised so much and produced so little.
Haddad preferred to look at the positives emerging from a race that saw Castrol Toyota crew Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin, in a factory Castrol Toyota Hilux, crash a kilometre from the finish while in the lead by nearly two minutes.
"I prefer to look at it from the perspective that Mark and Chris led the Amathole race for 499 of the 500 kilometres," said Haddad. "If you take into account that they also shared the fastest time on the prologue, Mark and Chris dominated the whole weekend which is a good indication of how good our cars are.
Haddad was also full of praise for third placed Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux, who were having only their second outing in a Super Production Toyota Hilux.
"It was a sterling effort from Hugo and Jaap," said Haddad. "They also showed great sportsmanship in stopping to help get Mark and Chris going again."
"It was the worst moment of my life," said a bitterly disappointed Cronje. After being pulled back onto four wheels Cronje/Birkin finished in fourth place.
Also in the wars were Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton, in another Castrol Toyota Hilux, who crashed out of the race early on. . "Bevan and Robin are going through the sort of patch that everyone goes through now and then," said Haddad, but there is no doubt we are highly competitive in the SP Class."
A third Castrol Toyota Hilux, in the hands of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, struggled home in eighth place after being plagued by niggling problems. Three of the four Toyota Hilux entries in the SP Class saw out the distance.
A gutsy performance saw another father and son team, Cliff and Louis Weichelt in the Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D, rewarded with second place in Class D. After an up and down season it was a good result for the Weichelt's.
Off road newcomers Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock, in a Toyota Hilux, were hampered by brake problems and came home fourth. The Amathole 500 was run in conjunction with the African Heritage Cross Country Rally with Bezuidenhout/Lock entering both events.
With the African Heritage round two of the FIA Cross Country World Cup, SA competitors were not eligible to score points. Despite more brake problems and the loss of four-wheel drive a delighted Bezuidenhout and Lock finished second in the Production Vehicle category.
Down in Class E championship challengers George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) suffered a blow when they crashed out of the Amathole event. The Barkhuizen's were leading when they went off the road and it was a bitter pill for the Bloemfontein crew.
Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux pair Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux kept their championship hopes alive with a hard earned second place with brothers Mark and Stuart Moffatt fourth in the Bosal Toyota Hilux and Fabio Tafani/Alun Dearling fifth in the Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux.
Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, also saw their championship hopes take a knock. After a good run in the prologue to determine start positions, they were early casualties with suspension damage.