VOS/LEEKE WIN TOYOTA KALAHARI BOTSWANA 1000 DESERT RACE FOR NISSAN Gaborone -- Duncan Vos and veteran Richard Leeke gave Nissan a sixth successive Production vehicle category victory on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race here ...
VOS/LEEKE WIN TOYOTA KALAHARI BOTSWANA 1000 DESERT RACE FOR NISSAN
Gaborone -- Duncan Vos and veteran Richard Leeke gave Nissan a sixth successive Production vehicle category victory on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race here today.
Vos and Leeke, in a factory Nissan Navara, were handed victory on a plate on round four of the Absa Off Road Championship when Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin fell out of contention just 65 kilometres from the finish. Cronje/Birkin looked to have Toyota's first Toyota 1000 Desert Race victory in eight years in the bag when disaster struck.
Second were Mark Corbett and Rudy Balzer, in the Century Property Development Nissan Navara, who came in around six minutes adrift of the works car. Toyota, after leading the event and three classes overnight, had to be content with a solid third place from Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, who were having their first outing in a Castrol Toyota Hilux in the SP Class.
The top five was rounded out by two factory Ford Racing Ranger entries in the hands of Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr and former winners Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. Harcus/Mohr had an unhappy second day with a sideshaft problem, while Woolridge/Skjoldhammer overcame a nightmare day one to finish only seconds behind their team-mates.
In a dramatic start to day two surprise overnight leaders Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Micaren Exel Dealer Team Toyota Hilux, and second placed Hannes Grobler/Francois Jordaan (Nissan Navara) were early casualties. The de Bruyn's broke a propshaft and Grobler/Jordaan, last year's winners, went out with suspension damage.
Terminal brake failure sidelined Manfred Schroder/Ward Huxtable, in the Absolute/Barloworld Ford Ranger, with the race starting to take its toll.
At the designated service point just under two minutes separated Cronje/Birkin and Vos/Leeke. A terrific scrap over the final leg was in the offing when the Toyota clipped a donkey 65 kilometres from the finish.
"I looked back to see if the animal was okay, and we hit a tree stump," said Cronje. "The impact broke the propshaft which severed the brake and fuel lines."
When team-mates Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton broke an axle at the same spot, the two crews cannabalised the second Toyota. Cronje and Birkin then limped home in seventh place overall to score important championship points.
"We had no problems, but the tight route and the dust made it very difficult to overtake anyone," said Vos. "We just kept plugging away and it again showed that in racing nothing is settled until the chequered flag drops."
For Vos it was his second win in a row and for Leeke his eighth Desert Race win. Leeke was a late replacement for Ralph Pitchford who missed the event through overseas commitments.
Nissan scored another class win when Henri and Maurice Zermatten took Class D in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody. It was their first win of the season with the pair coming from third place overnight to outlast the other runners, and gave Nissan their third Class D win this season.
Second and third were Toyota Hilux crews Malcolm Kok and Wayne Brink and Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock. Kok's father Andre is a former winner of the event and Brink's father in law, Apie Reyneke, won the Desert Race six times.
After such a promising start to the event Toyota had to be content with a lone class win via the husband and wife pair of George and Sharon Barkhuizen, in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, in Class E. They picked up a top 10 finish and were around 17 minutes ahead of Ford Racing Ranger pair Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro.
Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie were third in the Castrol Toyota Hilux after a solid performance.
SULLWALD ROLLS BACK CLOCK TO WIN TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE
Gaborone -- The years rolled back when Karl-Heinz Sullwald, partnered by his son Quinton, won the Special Vehicle category on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race which ended here today.
The Sullwald's, in the Sullwald Transport Zarco, won an exciting final day duel with last year's winners, Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT. The battle between the two crews seesawed backward and forward with the Sullwald's eventually finishing one minute and 26 seconds ahead of the Harpers.
Third were another former SA champion, Shameer Variawa, and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, who were around seven minutes behind the Harpers. Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann (Motorite BAT) recovered from a horrendous start to the event to finish fourth, with a solid performance taking Glen Gibson/Mike Brown into fifth in the Absolute BAT.
Sullwald, with brother Herman, won the South African championship in the early 90s. After a lengthy sabbatical the brothers, with various other family members, returned to the off road fold at the start of last season.
"This is a wonderful day for us," said an emotional Sullwald with brother Herman and Paul Helberg completing a good day for the family by finishing seventh overall . "We had no major problems over the two days, but Nick and Ryan gave us a run for our money."
The Sullwald's led the Harpers by nearly three minutes after day one. With a tight route and the dust a major factor, all the advantages on the final leg lay with the Sullwald's.
The Harpers whittled away at the lead and must have had visions of a repeat of last year when they won the race over the last 80 kilometres. The Sullwald's, however, never buckled under pressure and the final margin was comfortable enough.
Among the notable retirements were SA champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege, in the second Motorite BAT, who fell out after day one with suspension problems. It put an end to Cox's hopes of adding a Special Vehicle win to victories on a motorcycle and in a 'Production Vehicle.
Class B turned into a romp for another father and son combination in Hendrik and Jan Kraaij in the Regent Racing BAT. They chalked up their fourth win of the season and had a whopping 26 minutes in hand over second placed Bes Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn in the Adenco BAT.
Third were Louw de bruin and Rudi Britz in the Ruwacon BAT with a good battle between second and third. In the end only a minute separated the two crews.
Former Toyota 1000 Desert Race winner Richard Schilling and stand-in co-driver Mick Oosthuizen, in the Plastotech Aceco, were the only Class S survivors. They limped home on three wheels after a testing day, but the two veterans refused to give up.