Gaborone: Series shakedown summary

DE BRUYN'S FASTEST AGAIN ON TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE Gaborone, Friday -- For the second year in a row the father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux, have set the fastest Production vehicle time on the...

DE BRUYN'S FASTEST AGAIN ON TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE

Gaborone, Friday -- For the second year in a row the father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux, have set the fastest Production vehicle time on the prologue for the Toyota 1000 Desert Race which starts here tomorrow.

The 96 kilometre prologue determines start positions for the race proper which is round four of the Absa Off Road Championship. The de Bruyn's set the fastest time in last year's prologue and this year came in over two minutes ahead of track racing star Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton in the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux.

Taylor's display, in only his second outing for the factory Toyota team, set tongues wagging. And, to complete a successful afternoon for Toyota Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in another Castrol Toyota Hilux, were third fastest.

"This is the sort of terrain we love," said Hugo de Bruyn. "I grew up in this sort of country and we were expecting a good run.

"We broke down soon after the start of last year's race, so hopefully we will have better luck this time"

The three Toyota's came in ahead of reigning champion and last year's winner, Duncan Vos, who is accompanied by stand-in co-driver Louis Weichelt in the Sasol Nissan Navara. Fifth were South African Special vehicle champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege in the Motorite Ford.

In another surprise Mike Thomsett and Brian Haviland, in the Feltex Imperial Toyota, Hilux, were sixth fastest. After a two year break from racing the pair were giving the Toyota double cab its first competitive outing.

Multiple SA champion Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr, in a second Sasol Nissan Navara were seventh and, in another surprise, the Class D pair of Henri and Maurice Zermatten, in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody were eighth fastest.

The top 10 were completed by Jaco Swanepoel and Keith Solomon, in the IDM Cement Toyota Hilux and former winners Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the works Ford Racing Ranger. Among those who were hard done by were Mark and Chris Birkin, in the second Castrol Toyota Hilux, who found themselves down in 12th position after twp punctures cost them valuable time.

Second in Class D, around three minutes slower than the Zermatten's, were reigning drivers champion Cliff Weichelt and Jimmy Goch in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D. They were followed by current championship leaders Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody.

The Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux pair of Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux completed a good afternoon for Toyota when they set the fastest time in Class E. The current championship leaders were just over a minute quicker than the factory Ford Racing Ranger in the hands of Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro.

The race starts at 08h00 at Game City in Gaborone. The day one route is just short of 400 kilometres and ends at Hatsalatladi where there is also a designated service point.

CHAMPIONS SET FASTEST TIME ON TOYOTA 1000 DESERT RACE PROLOGUE

Gaborone, Friday -- Reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite BAT, continued a run of recent good form when they set the fastest time in the Special Vehicle category in the prologue for tomorrow's Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.

The race is round four of the Absa Off Road Championship with the prologue determining start positions for the race proper. Hutchison and Bergmann, after a rocky start to the season finished second on the recent Nissan Sugarbelt 400 and served up a warning they mean business this weekend.

The Motorite pair were just over a minute ahead of veteran Nardus Alberts and Geoff Minnitt in the Wrapsa BAT. Third were unheralded Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in a privately entered BAT, who made a late start to the season.

"We had a clean run and hopefully it will stay that way in the race," said Hutchison. "There is an awful long way still to go, but we are happy to be setting the pace."

Fourth fastest were 2006 winner Nick Harper who is partnered this weekend by Andrew Chalupsky in the Atlas Copco BAT. Not so lucky, however, were team-mates Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen in the Atlas Copco Porter.

The pair won the recent Nissan Sugarbelt 400 but reports from out in the field suggested Bertholdt and Vermeulen had sustained major rear suspension damage. It was feared their weekend was over.

Fifth fastest were former SA champion Herman Sullwald and Paul Helberg in the first of the two Sullwald Racing Zarcos. Current championship leaders and last year's winners, Karl-Hein Sullwald and son Quintin were down in eight position in the second Sullwald Racing Zarco.

Sandwiched between the two Sullwald cars were Swaziland crew John Moore and Tom Claasen in the Free Sprit Chev and the Regent Racing BAT of Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson. Only five seconds separated the two crews.

The fastest time in Class B went to the Ruwacon BAT pair of Louw de Bruin and Rudi Britz. They came in just over half a minute ahead of the Keymax BAT in the hands of reigning SA champions Hendrik and Jan Kraaij. For Hendrik Kraaij it is his first outing this season.

Championship leaders Dom Thompson and Don Blakey, who are turning into the finds of the season, led the Class P runners in a Zarco Lite. The Class P battle is one to watch in the race with just over half a minute covering the KwaZulu-Natal crew and Free State brothers David and Gary White, in the Ruwacon BAT, and Cape brothers Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT.

The race starts at 08h00 at Game City in Gaborone. The day one route is just short of 400 kilometres and ends at Hatsalatladi where there is also a designated service point.

-credit: absa

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , John Moore , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst