Race report from
at race HQ in Jawaneng, Botswana
JWANENG, Botswana – Normal service was resumed today with two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA cars leading 1-2 in the Production Vehicle qualifying race for the 2106 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.
Saturday’s (June 25 2016) race will be count as Round 3 of the South African Cross-Country Motor Racing championship.
Toyota factory teams in Toyota Hilux models have dominated the race since 2012 with Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy and Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie separated by 1min51 in the 120km sprint to determine start positions for the first heat of the race.
Both were running in the new FIA Class with neither reporting anything untoward on the way to clean runs.
‘SMOOTH SAILING ALL THE WAY’
The stars of the day, however, were brothers Johan and Werner Horn who brought the Malalane Toyota Hilux home third. The Horns, in a Class T car, were 43sec behind Poulter and Howie and came in ahead of three international crews also running to FIA Class specifications.
“It was smooth sailing all the way,” said a delighted Johan Horn. “It could not have gone better.”
The Horns finished ahead of Brazilians Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea, Christian Baumgart and Beco Andreotti Neto, each in a Neil Woolridge Motorsport/Rally X Ford Ranger, and Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and former Dakar Rally winner Dirk von Zitzewitz in another Toyota Gazzo Racing SA Toyota Hilux.
Only 1min05 separated the international trio so the Horns will find themselves in the line of fire in the early stages of Saturday’s race.
NEXT FOUR HOME FROM CLASS T
Von Zitzewitz told The Corner: “We are driving to the conditions and the route was very bumpy. Conrad drove very sensibly and the car is good.”
Each of the next four places went to cars also competing in Class T for vehicles over four litres with a solid axle rear-suspension. Cars this season must run tyres that are commercially available with former South African champion Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable (NWM/Ford Performance Ranger) coming in behind the trio of international cars.
An error soon after the start cost Visser (a former Desert Race winner) and Huxtable valuable time but the pair recovered to come in just over 80sec ahead of Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson in a Nissan Navara and Christiaan du Plooy/ Japie Badenhorst (VW Amarok) who were involved in a mighty battle for seventh and eighth.
In the end the cars were separated by only three seconds. Van Staden/Lawrenson reported a clean run in typical Desert Race conditions but Du Plooy and former winner Badenhorst took a puncture five kilometres from the finish.
HEAVY GOING FOR CLASS S
The top 10 was rounded out by the BMW of Hennie de Klerk/Adrian Roets. A steady drive saw them home against the likes of Luke Botha/Andre Vermeulen (Nissan Navara), Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann (Hilux), Gary Berthold/Pierre Arries (VW Amarok) and Terence Marsh – with Carte Blanche presenter Derek Watts navigating – in a Nissan Navara running in the FIA Class.
It was heavy going for the Class S cars for up to four litres with solid axle rear-suspension. They were led home by Otto Graven/Bobby Brewis and Ronald Graven/Lohan Faber, each in a Hilux. Third were Heine Strumpher /Henri Hugo in another Toyota Hilux.
The major casualties of the day were youngsters Gareth Woolridge/Body Dreyer (Ranger). The rolled the Ford but managed to get it back on its wheels and, in true Desert Race spirit, will be at the start on Saturday.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the service park are all at the Jwaneng Sports Club and adjoining showground facility. Public access to these areas will be controlled but there is free entry to spectator points along the route.
Saturday’s race will start at 8.30am.