The historic battlefields area of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal was the perfect venue for Castrol Team Toyota‘s first 1-2 victory in the Absa South African Off Road Car Championship on Saturday. It was an emphatic performance by the factory team. First across the finish line at the end of the Atlas Copco Battlefields 400 in a time of 6 hr 43 min 13 sec after 422 km of off road racing was the Toyota Hilux Double Cab of former champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who were followed 6 min 8 sec later by Castrol Toyota team-mates Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin.
Third, 17 min 31 sec behind the winners, was the Nissan Navara of Michael Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson, who crossed the finish line at the Battlefields Country Lodge outside Dundee on a sunny autumn afternoon in a time of 7 hr 0 min 44 sec.
“This result is the culmination of a lot of development, testing and hard work by a very dedicated team of individuals,” said team principal Glyn Hall. “Our new Hilux vehicles have shown both the pace and the reliability to win races and now we have achieved the perfect result in only our third event with the new pickups.
“Duncan and Anthony drove well today on a route that was new to all the competitors and they were able to stay ahead of the opposition without taking any unnecessary risks. We now have a solid platform to build as we challenge for the championship in the remaining five rounds.”
Vos was understandably delighted with his first win since the 4×4 Mega World 400 in 2010. He started today’s 350 km race in third place behind team-mate Taylor and reigning champion Chris Visser (Ford Ranger) after Friday’s 72 km prologue that determines the race start order.
“We had a great run today. The course was a good combination of fast and slow sections; with tricky water crossings and rocky sections; not too rough, but a good off road route. We had no problems with the car.”
Team-mate Taylor lost the lead after picking up a puncture on the first of the four loops that made up the day’s route and lost around three minutes. “Apart from the flat, we had a clean run and the Toyota didn’t miss a beat. We tapped off towards the end when we realised we had a good lead over the next vehicle.”
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Innovation Group, NGK, Imperial Group, SKF, Ferodo, Spanjaard, Edgecam and Donaldson.
The next round of the Absa Off Road Car Championship is the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana on June 26.