Rory Brown
3 minute read
9 Oct 2013
6:00 am

Toyota/Ford go head to head

Rory Brown

There will be plenty of nervous tension in the Team Castrol Toyota and Ford Racing camps at the Ford Dealer 400, penultimate round of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in Thaba 'NChu on Friday and Saturday.

LEADERS:Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy could clinch the Production Vehicle title this weekend.
Picture: Motorpics.

Leaders Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Team Castrol Toyota Hilux) will head for the Free State knowing that a fifth successive victory could seal for them the Production Vehicle championship. In the Ford Racing camp former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger) will be aware that, for the second time in a row, they need a good result to take the championship all the way to the wire.

Taylor and Murphy have reeled off four wins in a row that see them hold a 20 point lead over Visser and Badenhorst who have been models of consistency with one win and five other podium finishes. At the same time last year the Ford crew were locked in battle with reigning champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the second Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, and a timely win saw them take the title fight into the final event.

The situation sets up an intriguing weekend, and Vos/Howie and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable, in the second works Ford Ranger, also have important roles to play. Vos and Howie still have a mathematical chance of winning back to back titles but they, along with Woolridge/Huxtable, will be tasked with running interference for Taylor/Murphy and Visser/Badenhorst.

There are, of course, a string of other teams with winning capabilities and privateer teams could influence the title race. But so far this season no privateer crew has managed a victory with Team Castrol Toyota leading Ford Racing 4-2 in the victory stakes, and the odds are the status quo will remain intact in Thaba ‘Nchu.

Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau (Atlas Copco Nissan Navara) are first of the privateers in the championship and have shown plenty of pace in recent events. Consistency has kept Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) in the top five and Hugo de Bruyn/Henri Hugo (Micaren Excel Toyota Hilux) and Malcolm Kock/Johan Burger (Kock and Sons Toyota Hilux) have also had their moments this season.

After a hugely disappointing season so far Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS BMW X3) will be looking for a strong finish to the year, with former champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux) in much the same boat. A similar situation exists in the Regent Racing camp where Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson have been the standout performers in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara.

Whitehouse/Carlson will again have support from Terence Marsh and Gerhard Schutte and Jurgen Schroder/Michael Abramson. There will also be interest in the Imperial Automotive Nissan Navara, where rap singer Jack Parow will join former SA champion Archie Rutherford as celebrity co-driver.

The overall and premier SP Class championship situations are similar to developments in Class D. Here young North West pair Jason Venter and Vincent van Alleman (Trysome Toyota Hilux) also have a 20 point cushion over closest rivals Johan and Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser.

The Horns have won the last two events – the Sun City 400 and the Vryburg 400 – and need another good result to keep the pressure on Venter and van Alleman and also take the title fight into the final event. The Mpumalanga brothers are only two points clear of former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (LMC Land Rover) who have been in patchy form this season.

Down in Class E reigning champions Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Ford Ranger) have again dominated the category. An interesting addition to the Class E fold, however, is motor journalist Sudhir Matai, who makes his cross country debut in a factory Ford Ranger with the experienced Henri Zermatten sitting alongside him.

Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers (Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux) scored a maiden win earlier in the season and will be looking for more of the same.

Also in the mix are Johan Pretorius and AJ Crause in another Toyota Hilux.