Polokwane: Toyota event summary

TOYOTA WIN MANUFACTURERS AWARD ON LIMPOPO 400 It was another case of so near and yet so far for Toyota on the Limpopo 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, over the weekend. Both factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries, crewed by Mark...

TOYOTA WIN MANUFACTURERS AWARD ON LIMPOPO 400

It was another case of so near and yet so far for Toyota on the Limpopo 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, over the weekend.

Both factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries, crewed by Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin and Anthony Taylor/Robin Houghton, were overall and Class SP victory candidates before disaster struck. Cronje/Birkin limped home in fourth place with a broken front shock absorber and Taylor/Houghton retired with a blown head gasket at the end of the first of two loops that made up the race.

There was compensation for Toyota, however, in the form of Class E domination, winning the manufacturers award and a great performance from Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux, who finished second overall. But in Class SP it was again a case of what might have been.

Taylor/Houghton were having a great run when the engine started to overheat 10 kilometres from the end of the first loop. On the way to the restart after the designated service area halt the engine again overheated.

"There was no point in cooking the engine so we decided to call it a day," said a disappointed Taylor. "We were going really well and it was frustrating to have to retire, but we did the right thing."

Cronje and Birkin looked to be heading for their second win of the season when they had a 30 second lead over eventual winners Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr in a Sasol Nissan Navara. Bu their hopes ended 30 kilometres from the end when the shock absorber broke.

"We debated whether or not to call it a day, and then decided to see if we could make it to the finish," said Birkin. "It was very disappointing but we salvaged championship points."

After a disappointing prologue the de Bruyn's came good in the race. They reported a clean run and never got out of the car. "We went to sleep on the prologue," said Hugo, "but it fell into place in the race."

There was also a good result for Mike Thomsett and Brian Haviland, in the Imperial Feltex Toyota Hilux, who were sixth in Class SP and also reported a trouble free run. Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (Castrol Toyota Hilux) were seventh in Class SP after hitting a tree and damaging the windscreen, with the pair later plagued by a wheel hub problem.

There was disappointment for Chris du Plooy senior and Ewald van Rensburg, making their debut in the RFS Toyota Hilux, who were forced to retire with mechanical ills. George and Sharon Barkhuizen went out when they were marooned on rocks in a river bed, while Jaco Swanepoel/Keith Solomon (IDM Cement Toyota Hilux) battled throughout the race with fuel starvation problems.

Ramon Bezuidenhout and wife Maret salvaged some Toyota pride with second place in Class D in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux. It was their third good finish in a row, but Chris du Plooy junior and Henk van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux) and Cliff Weichelt and Nico Els (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) were race casualties.

Toyota dominated Class E by taking the first three places. Deon Venter and Ian Palmer, in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux, scored their first national win with a solid performance.

Second were Dewald van Breda/Johan du Toit in the Potch Plastics Toyota Hilux, with Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux third in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux. It was a result that saw Visser and le Roux tighten their hold on the Class E championship.

"It was a weekend that once again was a little disappointing from an SP Class point of view," said Toyota Motorsport manager William Haddad. "But it is over and now we need to concentrate our efforts on top results on the Toyota Dealer 400.

"It would be nice if we could pick up our second win of the season on our own event."

The Toyota Dealer 400 in Lydenburg on October 11 and 12 is the penultimate event of the season.

-credit: saorc

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Japie Badenhorst