Botswana: Series event summary

NISSAN TAKE EIGHTH TOYOTA 1 000 DESERT RACE WIN IN A ROW Gaborone, Sunday -- Reigning South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford produced a new faultless display to give Nissan their eighth Toyota 1000 Desert Race victory in a row...


Gaborone, Sunday -- Reigning South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford produced a new faultless display to give Nissan their eighth Toyota 1000 Desert Race victory in a row here today.

Vos and Pitchford, in the factory Donaldson Nissan Navara, led by 33 minutes at the end of day one and finally finished just more than 40 minutes ahead of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton in the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux. Taylor and Houghton threw in the towel at the final designated service point after picking up a gearbox problem.

The Toyota pair decided not to risk heroics and opted to settle for a solid second place after losing wads of time on day one stuck in two mud holes. And while the overall win again eluded Toyota, there was compensation by way of taking the Manufacturers Award, having four cars in the first five and winning Classes D and E for the fourth time in a row.

After a dodgy prologue that saw them start 13th in the Production Vehicle category and 28th overall, Vos and Pitchford never put a wheel wrong. They even managed to avoid the last lap drama that so often snatches defeat from the jaws of victory on this race.

"There was no pressure and it was probably the easiest day Ralph and I will ever have on a Desert Race," said Vos. "The car was perfect, Ralph was as good as ever and apart from the prologue it was the perfect weekend."

A tight route and unexpectedly high levels of water took a heavy toll on the Production Car field. Only 11 of the original 28 starters made it to the finish with high profile casualties including former winner Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr in another Donaldson Nissan Navara.

A terrific performance from Pretoria student Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Jansen van Vuuren, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, saw them score their first ever national podium finish. The youngsters brought the car home almost without a scratch in what is their first season in the premier SP Class.

Fourth place went to Gary Bertholdt and Danie Stassen, in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, who were also victims of day one mud holes. The consistent Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in a second RFS Toyota Hilux, rounded out the top five despite an encounter with a tree on day one.

Ivar Tollefsen/Quin Evans (Donaldson Nissan Navara), Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn (Micaren Toyota Hilux) and Terence Marsh/Pieter Groenewald (Regent Nissan Navara) completed the SP Class finishers. Tollefsen and Evans hit a rock on day one and all three crews endured tough weekends.

A gutsy sixth overall took Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus, in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux, into sixth place and gave them the win in Class E. They came in ahead of reigning champions Jannie Visser and Joks Le Roux, in another RFS Toyota Hilux, with the pair the only Class E finishers.

Limpopo crew Johan and Werner Horn, in the Malelane Toyota Land Cruiser, were the only finishers in Class D. Casualties included Cliff and Louis Weichelt (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) who won the three previous events.


Gaborone, Sunday -- Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau were given a Father's Day present when they won the Special Vehicle category at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.

For Variawa and Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, it was their second successive victory on what was round four of this year's Absa Off Road Championship. It was only on the final lap of a race that saw only eight of the original 28 starters make it to the finish, that Variawa and Rousseau nosed ahead of Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the Motorite Revo1 4x4.

The pair fought out a wonderful last day battle with former South African champions Hutchison and Bergmann looking for their fourth win in a row this season. Only seconds separated the two cars at the final designated service point, and a puncture for the Motorite pair 150 kilometres into the final lap was eventually the decider.

"It was a great fight and that was probably the toughest Desert Race that I have ever done," said Variawa who battled all weekend with flu. "The final lap was very technical and we did not think we could stay with the Motorite car.

"The puncture clinched it for us but it was tough on Evan and Achim."

The final podium place went to former winners Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, who battled with a clutch problem. They eventually edged out the steady Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson in the Regent Racing BAT who came up with another steady performance.

Local hero Atang Makgekgenene, in a Porter, and a former SA champion and Desert Race winner, rounded out the top five. Makgekgenene was partnered by Zimbabwe rally navigator Philip Archenoul who was competing in his first ever off road race.

"It is not for the faint of heart," said Archenoul, "but I enjoyed it. I would like to do more races with Atang but I have African Rally Championship commitments and we'll see what happens."

A fine performance saw brothers David and Gary White finish sixth overall in the Ruwacon BAT and take Class P where they were the only finishers. Among the casualties were current champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT), KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thompson and James Watson (Zarco Lite) and Johan van Staden and James Rossouw in the KEC BAT.

There was also an impressive performance from Cape Town crew Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar, in the Orange Tree BAT, who took the Class B honours .It was their first national championship win.

High profile casualties over the weekend included prologue winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the Century Racing BAT, and team-mates Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR1) with both cars falling by the wayside on day one. Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing Zarco) were also casualties with the unfortunate pair ending up spending the night in the bush.

"The locals were very friendly," said Wichard. "We built a big fire next to the car but it was very cold.

Reigning SA champions Kallie and Quinton Sullwald (Sullwald Racing BAT) were day two casualties along with Jimmy Zahos and Stephan Coetzee (Mountain Dew BAT) who started the day in second place.

-credit: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Ralph Pitchford , Quin Evans , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst