SOLID START FOR CASTROL TOYOTA TEAMS Castrol Toyota teams made a solid start to the season in the prologue today for the Nissan Dealer 400, the opening event of the Absa Off Road Championship, which starts in Darling tomorrow. There was...
SOLID START FOR CASTROL TOYOTA TEAMS
Castrol Toyota teams made a solid start to the season in the prologue today for the Nissan Dealer 400, the opening event of the Absa Off Road Championship, which starts in Darling tomorrow.
There was one major disappointment for the squad, however, with Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin forced out of the event in a testing accident yesterday. Cronje rolled the Castrol Toyota Hilux, scheduled to run in the new Super Production Class, with the damage to extensive to be repaired in time.
"It was an unfortunate incident," said philosophical Toyota Motorsport manager Wammy Haddad. "It was one of those things that happen when you are out testing, and you cannot budget for something like that.
"It is disappointing but I am sure the rest of the factory team and the privateers will come good."
On this score there were encouraging signs. Bevan Bertholdt, in his Castrol Toyota debut, and Robin Houghton qualified fifth in the SP Class with the pair, in fact, out in a Class D vehicle.
"I haven't had much seat time in the vehicle so we took it easy," said Bertholdt. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, set the fastest time in Class D with Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, in third place. Visser and Badenhorst are the reigning Class E champions and the de Bruins are former Class E champions with both crews moving up a category this season.
Cliff and Louis Weichelt were fifth in Class D in the Bosal Toyota Hilux. All the Class D crews reported trouble free runs and that augurs well for the race.
Second and third in Class E in Toyota Hilux entries were off road newcomers Jaco Swanepoel/Graham Bishop and Fabio Tafani/Mike Baron. The two former circuit racers also reported clean runs and were delighted with their performances.
Further down the Class E list George and Sharon Barkhuizen, in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, also reported a trouble free run. It was a little different, however, where Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie were concerned.
The pair completed the prologue without any mishaps. Then the rear window burst and the bonnet flew open and shattered the windscreen.
"We had a clean run on the prologue itself, and the other damage is superficial," said Martin. "The vehicle was good so we are looking for a good result."