Botswana: Series prologue summary

TAYLOR/HOUGHTON WIN PRODUCTION VEHICLE PROLOGUE GABORONE - Toyota have not won their own event, the blue chip Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, since 1999 but will be in buoyant mood after today's Donaldson Prologue to ...

TAYLOR/HOUGHTON WIN PRODUCTION VEHICLE PROLOGUE

GABORONE - Toyota have not won their own event, the blue chip Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, since 1999 but will be in buoyant mood after today's Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for this year's event which starts near here tomorrow.

Anthony Taylor/Robin Houghton and reigning driver's champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie finished first and third in the Production Vehicle category in the pair of Team Castrol Toyota Hilux entries. Sandwiched between the two factory Toyotas were former winners Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the diesel powered Team Ford Ranger TDCi.

A commanding performance saw Taylor and Houghton, who sat alongside Apie Reyneke the last time Toyota won this race, finish 28 seconds ahead of Team Ford Ranger pair Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. Vos and Howie were only three seconds behind the Ford in the second Castrol Toyota.

Vos, whose previous Botswana wins all came for Nissan, is looking for his fourth win in a row on the Botswana classic and along with Howie is involved in a tight championship race. Fourth and fifth were Hannes Grobler/Hennie ter Stege (RFS BMW) and Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara) with championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) completing the top six.

Among the premier SP Class casualties were Sun City 400 winners Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) and Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux). A gearbox problem saw the Regent pair miss the start, mechanical gremlins hit the RFS Toyota, while local crew Ausman Sadiq and Shaukat Fazaldin (Nissan Navara) got lost and lost wads of time.

Current Class D championship leaders Dewald van Breda/Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) are giving this event a miss, and honours went to Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. They were a long way ahead of local crew Arnold Mabille and Reg Molomo (Nissan Hardbody), with the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser of Louis Weichelt and Johan Smalberger hit by fuel pressure problems.

It was the same in Class E where teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger), who currently lead the championship, lead home Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger in a Toyota Hilux. The two 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux entries in the hands of Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus and Hein Moolman/JD Wolfaardt were also casualties and, starting from the back of the field, have mountains to climb.

The first leg of the race starts at Kumakwane, not far from Gaborone, at 8am tomorrow. The start/finish and designated service point are all at Kumakwane with tomorrow's survivors facing another 8am start on Sunday.

SURPRISE RESULT ON SPECIAL VEHICLE CATEGORY PROLOGUE

Polokwane crew Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya sprang a major surprise when they won the Donaldson Prologue to determine Special Vehicle category start positions on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race today.

Moosajee and Bodhanya, in the Maxxis/TyreRack Porter, blitzed the rest of the field to finish 34 seconds ahead of 2007 winners and former SA champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT. The Sullwald's in turn had 14 seconds in hand over Bevan Bertholdt and Danie Stassen in the lab88 BAT.

Moosajee and Bodhanya have not set the world alight so far this season but scorched their way through the 72 kilometre prologue to upstage a host of more fancied runners. Bertholdt and Stassen have also had a roller coaster season, while the Sullwald's have emerged as strong challengers for this year's championship.

Fourth fastest were reigning drivers' champion Evan Hutchison and Darryl Curtis in the Motorite Revo1, with championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Team Total Porter) and Nic Harper and Kevin Hume (Atlas Copco BAT fifth and sixth. Variawa and Rousseau, looking for a third successive win, and the Atlas Copco pair set identical times but start ahead of Harper/Hume by virtue of a higher seeding.

For the second event in a row Class P leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) picked up puncture problems and finished down the order in ninth place. That let in 4x4 Mega World 400 winner Archie Rutherford and new co-driver Mike Lawrenson in the Regent Racing Jimco, who came in ahead of former Desert Race winner Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer in the Century Racing CR2.

Behind Rutherford/Lawrenson and Corbett/Balzer only 16 seconds separated three crews. Swaziland pair John Thompson and Zelda Niemandt (Zarco) edged out Cape based brothers Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) and Marius and Andre Fourie in another BAT.

There was an interesting battle in Class B where just three seconds separated two veteran drivers in Bes Bezuidenhout Adenco BAT) and Coetzee Labuscagne in the Raysonics Zarco. Bezuidenhout is partnered by daughter-in-law Lindie and Labuscagne by daughter Sandra.

The first leg of the tough race, which this year will be run in uncomfortably hot conditions, gets underway at Kumakwane, west of Gaborone, tomorrow at 8am. The second leg will also start at 8am on Sunday with the designated service point also situated at Kumakwane.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Mark Corbett , Darryl Curtis , John Thompson , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst