document : Castrol Team Toyota 2nd, 3rd in Toyota1000 Desert Race prologue

Castrol Team Toyota 2nd, 3rd in Toyota1000 Desert Race prologue
information supplied by: Toyota South Africa - Offroad 22 June 2012

329035 22 June 2012

Results are provisional

The 31st Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race sponsored by Toyota got underway near Gaborone this afternoon with 28 production vehicles and 26 contesting the 60-kilometre Donaldson prologue to determine the start order for the first of two days of racing tomorrow.

The two Castrol Team Toyota Hilux double cab 4x4 pickups of Duncan Vos/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Chris Birkin finished the Donaldson Prologue in second and third places respectively in the production vehicle category and will start Saturday’s 436-kilometre route behind today’s winners, Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege (BMW X3).

Just 51 seconds covered the first seven production vehicles. Vos, three times a winner of the longest and toughest race on the off road calendar and the only one held outside South Africa, crossed the finish line in Kumakwane, 25 kilometres outside Gaborone, just three seconds behind the winning BMW X3 of six-time former winner Hannes Grobler. It was a fine effort by the current championship leaders, who lost around 30 seconds when they hit a tree 12 kilometres into the prologue and were forced to complete the remaining 48 kilometres with a bent front steering arm.

Taylor, who was quickest after 52 kilometres, was slowed when his Toyota suffered a broken front drive shaft and he was forced to complete the final eight kilometres in two wheel drive. He finished 12 seconds behind team-mate and three-time former Desert Race winner Vos.

“Despite their problems, both crews did well this afternoon and we’re happy to have both cars in the top three for tomorrow’s race,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “We’ve got a bit of work to do before we can line up for tomorrow’s 8 am start, but the lads are more than up to it and we’ll be ready to take on the best the Botswana desert has to offer.”

Vos admitted to overcooking his approach to a fast bend in the sandy desert scrubland. “We were almost at top speed in sixth gear when I went a bit wide and we hit a tree. The engine stalled and by the time we had reversed and got going again, we’d lost around half a minute. It was not easy controlling the Hilux with the damaged steering. We’re pleased to be at the sharp end of the big field for the start of tomorrow’s race, but there’s a long way to go yet – the equivalent of two separate rounds of a normal length national championship race – and we’ll be taking this race one day at a time and giving it the respect it demands.”

Taylor and Birkin, who came agonisingly close to winning last year’s race, only to fall back to second with 17 kilometres remaining, were also not dissatisfied with their prologue performance. “This is not a race won on the first or even the second day, but on Sunday. We have to be in a position to push for a win in the final 100 or 200 kilometres. There are four cars ahead of us at tomorrow’s start – two special vehicles and two production – and that’s a whole lot better than being in the middle of the field. Chris and I are keen to make up for last year’s disappointment.”

Toyota Hilux privateers acquitted themselves well and are in a good position to help Toyota extend their comfortable lead over Ford, BMW and Nissan in the manufacturers’ championship.

Hugo de Bruyn/Henri Hugo finished seventh, Deon Venter/Ian Palmer were ninth, Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux came in 10th and Pikkie Labuschagne//Rickus Erasmus earned 11th place. All of these cars were competing in the premier SP class. Toyota Land Cruisers filled the first three places in class D with Louis Weichelt/Maret Bezuidenhout 14th overall, Johan Horn/Werner Horn 15th overall and Cliff Weichelt/Johann Smalberger 16th overall.

Tomorrow’s race starts at 08.00 from Kumakwane and consists of two laps of a 212-kilometre route with a 20-minute compulsory service stop at Kumakwane after lap one.

Toyota Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.

Castrol Team Toyota 2nd, 3rd in Toyota1000 Desert Race prologue.doc (28kB)

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Tags | Motorsport | 2012 Toyota 1000 Desert Race | Toyota South Africa - Offroad | 2011 WesBank V8 Supercars - Round 9, Zwartkops |