Brian Joss –
Castrol Team Toyota’s Anthony Taylor and navigator Dennis Murphy achieved a hat-trick of wins on the iconic Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race this weekend, by achieving the top step of the podium for the third time in a row, in their Toyota Hilux. Teammates, Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, finished third after running into difficulties early on day two.eeroy and Rob started today in first place with a fourteen second lead. But a problem with the brake caliper saw them lose the best part of twenty minutes right at the start of the day,” explained Castrol Team Toyota Team Principal Glyn Hall. “But they managed to catch the Ford of Gary Berthold ahead of them, ending the day just fourteen seconds behind.”
For Taylor/Murphy, however, Poulter and Howie’s trouble opened the door. They passed their stricken teammates just 4 km into Sunday’s first loop, after pausing to check if they could assist.
“We saw Leeroy and Rob stuck on the route, so we asked if there was anything we could do to help,” said an elated Taylor from the service park in Jwaneng. “They told us to carry on, which is exactly what we did.”
For Poulter/Howie, the day turned into a flat out race, despite being handicapped by three-wheel braking during the first loop of the day and a damaged clutch, which also resulted from the broken brake caliper that instantly jammed the wheel of the Hilux.
“Even so the Hilux ran extremely well, and we managed to catch up with some of the slower cars ahead of us,” said Poulter from the finish. “But it was heart breaking to start the day with a lead, only to lose it in the first 5 km of the route.”
Despite losing his lead, Poulter retains his lead in the Donaldson Cross-Country Championship, thanks to winning the first day of the Desert Race. Effectively this has given him three wins from three starts, with Taylor still comfortably in second place.
In Class S, for vehicles with engines of four liters and solid read axles, it was the Toyota Hilux of Heinie Strumpher and Henri Hugo that triumphed. Their victory contributed to Toyota winning the manufacturer’s award for the Desert Race. They were followed home by Deon Venter and Jaco van Aardt, also in a Toyota Hilux.
For the Donaldson Cross-Country Championship, the next round of the championship is the Malalane 450, which takes place in early August. This will be round four of the six-round championship.