GOOD DAY FOR CASTROL TOYOTA TEAMS IN LESOTHO 400 PROLOGUE Castrol Toyota Hilux teams had a good outing today in the prologue for tomorrow's Lesotho Sun 400, round six of the Absa South African Off Road Championship. On a day when Special...
GOOD DAY FOR CASTROL TOYOTA TEAMS IN LESOTHO 400 PROLOGUE
Castrol Toyota Hilux teams had a good outing today in the prologue for tomorrow's Lesotho Sun 400, round six of the Absa South African Off Road Championship.
On a day when Special Vehicle dominated by taking eight of the top 10 positions to decide start positions for the race proper, all five Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i entries emerged from the prologue relatively unscathed. It was a good omen for the squad on what promises to be one of the toughest races of the year.
Top of the Castrol Toyota teams was the Gavin Cronje/Robin Houghton entry. The pair came home 10th overall, second in the Production Vehicle category and were the first of the Class D entries.
"Unlike the recent Sun City race we had a good, clean run," said Cronje. The car was great but judging by conditions on the prologue, it is going to be a tough race.
"I am looking forward to the challenge."
Cronje's sentiments were echoed by elder brother Mark who is paired with Chris Birkin. The former Class E champions were 12th overall and second in Class D.
"The route is almost unchanged from last year, and that means it is going to be rough going," said Cronje. "The vehicle was good, so we have high hopes for the race."
For former rally driver Paolo Piazza-Musso, paired with Ockie Fourie in another Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i running in Class D, the prologue confirmed suspicions that the Lesotho 400 would live up to Roof of Africa Rally expectations. Piazza-Musso and Fourie were 19th overall and third in Class D.
"It's is going to be a rough day, so we'll take a cautious approach," said Piazza-Musso. "The main thing is to finish.
"We didn't have any problems today, so hopefully it will stay that way."
Class E championship leader Zane Pearce, partnered by Hennie Vosloo, was happy enough with second in Class and 21st place overall. Pearce has so far finished every event - and wants to keep the record going.
"We had a nightmare race last year, and hopefully we won't have a repeat performance," said Pearce. "It is going to be rough but, like Paolo, we are going to stick to a strategy of taking it easy and making it to the finish."
Right behind Pearce/Vosloo in 22nd and 23rd respectively were Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst and Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in two other Class E Toyota entries. Both crews had clean runs in the prologue, and have high hopes for the race.
"The best race option is to take it easy if you want to get to the finish," said Visser. "The car is good, so we'll see what happens."
For Toyota Motorsport manager Whammy Haddad the prologue results were encouraging. But he is aware of the pitfalls that could crop up on race day.
"There is no doubt it is going to be a race of attrition," Haddad said. "The major aim is to keep the vehicles intact.
"The crews all have plenty of experience, and if we can avoid major problems should come up with good results."