Toyota team Sun City 400 summary

MIXED BAG FOR TOYOTA AT SUN CITY 400 There was a mixed bag of results for the factory Castrol Toyota squad and Toyota privateers at the Sun City 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, over the weekend. Toyota scored a class victory...

MIXED BAG FOR TOYOTA AT SUN CITY 400

There was a mixed bag of results for the factory Castrol Toyota squad and Toyota privateers at the Sun City 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, over the weekend.

Toyota scored a class victory via the father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, and both the Castrol Toyota Hilux V6 entries running in the Super Production Class saw out the distance for the second time in a row. It was, however, a weekend with its ups and downs.

Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton and Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin finished third and sixth overall and were third and fifth in the SP Class. After a string of reliability problems earlier in the season, a second finish in the points for both teams was encouraging.

It could, however, have been a lot better for both crews. On the second of two 200 kilometre loops that made up the route, the Bertholdt/Houghton entry ran into a propshaft problem that cost them valuable time and reduced them to two-wheel drive.

"It was very frustrating," said Bertholdt. "We were going well but in two-wheel drive it was hard work.

"On the positive side we again showed that the potential is there to start challenging for wins."

The unfortunate Cronje/Birkin combination were on the back foot after being penalised 60 minutes, along with a string of other crews, for missing a marshal point on the prologue that determines start positions for the race proper. After that it was a matter of having to work their way through the field.

"The route for the prologue was badly marked," said Birkin. "It turned into a poor run for us, but the vehicle was good."

A charge through the field by the pair was hampered by punctures and a broken wheel rim. "It was not a happy event for us," said Cronje, "but if you take away the one hour penalty we were right up among the frontrunners."

After missing the Lesotho Sun 400, the de Bruyn pairing came up with another solid performance. There was a high attrition rate among Class D and the de Bruyn's were one of only two crews to see out the distance.

Among those who fell by the wayside were championship leaders Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, and Cliff and Louis Weichelt in the Bosal Toyota Hilux. Visser and Badenhorst suffered engine problems throughout the weekend and were never in the hunt for a fifth win this season.

For the Weichelt's it was an adventurous weekend. On the prologue a brake caliper burst and further forward progress was halted by a tree and, after working late into the night to get the vehicle ready for the race, the pair were forced to retire with wheel bearing failure.

Class E also saw a high attrition rate with hot and dusty conditions, combined with a tough route, taking its toll. Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, went out on the second lap with a blown head gasket.

"It was a pity," said Fourie, "because up to then we were going along steadily. Gauges suddenly started going haywire and that was it."

Former circuit racers Jaco Swanepoel (IDM Cement Toyota Hilux) and Fabio Tafani (Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux) were forced out with mechanical problems, along with George and Sharon Barkhuizen in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux. Newcomers Louw de Bruin and Willem Bosch, in the ex Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, also failed to see out the distance and it was left to Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Toyota Hilux) and the Moffat brothers, Mark and Stuart, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux to score points.

Both teams ground out hard earned finishes. Visser/Le Roux were second in class with the Moffat's coming in third 14 minutes in arrears.

"It could have been better and it could have been worse," said Toyota Motorsport manager Wammy Haddad. "It was a tough race but it is now behind us and we must start preparing for the next event."

The next event is the Toyota Dealer 400 in Lydenburg on October, 27 and 28 and good results on their own event will be a high priority for all the Toyota crews.

-credit: toyota south africa

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Japie Badenhorst