Botswana 1000 Prologue summary

DE BRUYNS STRIKE AN EARLY BLOW FOR TOYOTA Gaborone - The father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn struck an early blow for Toyota, looking to break an eight year drought on the event, when they won today's Production Vehicle prologue to get...


Gaborone - The father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn struck an early blow for Toyota, looking to break an eight year drought on the event, when they won today's Production Vehicle prologue to get the Toyota 1000 Desert Race off to a promising start.

The de Bruyn's, in the Micaren Exel Dealer Team Toyota Hilux, running in the Super Production Class, were surprise winners on what is round four of the Absa Off Road Championship. The race proper starts tomorrow with the de Bruyn's finishing ahead of last year's winners, Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in the factory Nissan Navara, with Barloworld/Absolute Ford Ranger pair Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable in third place.

On a good day for the race's principle sponsor the top five was rounded out by two more Castrol Toyota Hilux factory entries running in the SP Class. Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin were fourth with Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, having their first outing in the SP Class vehicle, in fifth place.

Just 33 seconds separated the first four cars, with Visser and Badenhorst a further 42 seconds in arrears. Further down the field there were a bevy of fancied drivers including Bevan Bertholdt/Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux), Sun City winner Duncan Vos, partnered this weekend end by seven time Toyota Desert Race winner Richard Leeke (Nissan Navara), Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr (Ford Racing Ranger) and three time winners Neil Woolridge/Kenny Skjoldhammer in another factory Ford Racing Ranger.

The de Bruyns finished third in last year's event in a Class E entry, but were not surprised by today's showing.

"I was brought up in these sort of conditions, so I was at home in the sand," said de Bruyn junior. "The vehicle is brilliant and we always thought we could come up with a good time.

"Now we are looking forward to a good race."

In Class D just four seconds separated the first three cars in the prologue. Cliff and Louis Weichelt, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D, edged out Malcolm Kok and Wayne Brink (Toyota Hilux) and the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody in the hands of Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox.

Third and fourth also produced a close contest with Jurie and Andre du Plessis, in another BB Auto Nissan Hardbody, only three seconds ahead of Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody. The du Plessis brothers lead the championship by a single point with the Nissan entries ganging up on the Weichelt's.

Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux, were quickest in Class E where another tight championship issue has developed. Visser and le Roux were three minutes quicker than George and Sharon Barkhuizen in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux with Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Toyota Hilux) in third spot.

Further back championship leaders Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro (Ford Racing Ranger) were in a group of entries that also included Brian Martin/Ockie Fourie (Castrol Toyota Hilux), Fabio Tafani/Alun Dearling (Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux) and kart legend Derrick Irving and Grayham Bishop in the IDM Cement Toyota Hilux.


Gab0rone -- Former South African champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau threw their hats into the ring today when they won the Special Vehicle category prologue at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race.

Variawa and Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, upstaged a host of fancied competitors. However, only 22 seconds separated the top five crews and that sets the scene for an intriguing battle on what is round four of the Absa Off Road Championship.

Variawa/Rousseau were just six seconds ahead of Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein (Atlas Copco Porter) who were within 80 kilometers of winning last year's race. Only two seconds further back in third place were Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Property Development BAT who were the surprise package of the day.

Last year's winners, Nick and Ryan Harper (Atlas Copco BAT) and reigning South African champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Steege (Motorite BAT) completed the top five. The Harpers were seven seconds behind Matthews and Smith, and five seconds ahead of Cox and ter Steege.

Not far behind the leading bunch were a string of crews who will all fancy their chances of winning. They included Nardus Alberts/Collin Hunter (Wrapsa BAT), Naeem Moosajee/Rayhaan Bodhanya (Total Motorsport Jimco), Karl-Heinz Sullwald/Quinton Sullwald (Sullwald Transport Zarco) and local crew Gary Gillingham and Pieter van Vuuren in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam BAT.

Off road legend Cox will be aiming to complete a unique hat-trick over the weekend. He has won the race on a motorcycle, in a Production vehicle and is looking to complete the cycle with a Special Vehicle win.

"This is the race everyone wants to win, and hopefully I can make it a cleans sweep," said Cox. "We have the car but a little luck would also be a help."

For Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergman, in a second Motorite BAT, the prologue was a disaster and they have plenty of work ahead of them. A string of problems saw the pair limp home more than five minutes behind Matthews and Smith.

"It was a disaster," said Hutchison. "The only compensation is that we have two days and 1000 kilometres in which to rectify the situation."

Class B leaders Jan and Hendrik Kraaij, in the Regent Racing BAT, once again stamped their authority on Class B. They finish just over half a minute ahead of Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, and are looking for their fourth win in four outings this season.

There was also a sizeable gap between the first two cars in Class S where Richard Schilling and veteran Mick Oosthuizen, deputising for an ill Chris Davies, were three minutes ahead of arch rivals Nick Goslar and Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco. Both Schilling and Carolin are former winners of the Toyota Desert Race with Carolin out in the same car in which he and brother Buks won the race in 1995.

-credit: msa

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ian Palmer , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst