Brian Joss – The pressure will be on defending South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS) champions Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dennis Murphy this weekend, as the pair find themselves desperately in need of a win, in order to remain in the title fight.
The only problem is that teammates Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings currently top the standings, so the two Toyota Hilux crews will be squaring up for championship honours at the Bronkhorstspruit 400, Round 4 of the 2019 series, this coming weekend.
“There are still three races to go this year, but the reality is that Henk and Brett have taken the lead in the championship race, so Giniel and Dennis will have to dig deep if they want to stay in the mix,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, before this weekend’s race. “We’ll do everything we can to give all our crews the best possible machines for the race, but the results are kind of up to them.”
Shameer Variawa and navigator Juan Möhr are just nine points behind De Villiers/Murphy in the overall championship, and will be gunning for another podium finish this weekend. The pair started their campaign with a DNF, but have proven their worth over the races that have followed.
Meanwhile, Hall is turning his attention to Dakar 2020, and will be testing some new components in the lead up to the Bronkhorstspruit 400: “We have some new transmission components to test prior to the race, and if they work as expected, we’ll leave them in place for the weekend.”
After this round, the team will be testing the Toyota Hilux in Namibia, in preparation for the world’s toughest automotive race, the Dakar Rally, which kicks off on January 5th, 2020, in Saudi Arabia.
“The reality is that we never stop preparing for Dakar,” explains Hall. “We continually test and develop and refine things. But now that we are in the second half of the year, we have to ramp up our preparations significantly.”
Despite a shift of focus to Dakar, the team will be racing to win this weekend, and having three works Toyota Hilux crews at the top of the standings prove their dedication to the SACCS.
Further back, brothers Johan and Werner Horn have a mountain to climb, as they find themselves 54 points behind arch rivals, Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Ford), who lead the Class T standings. The pair failed to make up ground during the 2019 Toyota 1000 Desert Race, which took place in Botswana last month, and will be feeling the pressure in Bronkhorstspruit.
As in 2018, the 2019 Bronkhorstspruit 400 will have its HQ and Designated Service Park (DSP) at the Soetdoring Function Venue near the town of Bronkhorstspruit. Competitors will take on a qualifying race over 60 km on Friday, with the main event getting under way at 8 am on Saturday. Two loops of 180 km will make up the race on Saturday, with a compulsory service stop between the two loops. Entry to all areas is free of charge, and the race can also be followed via the RallySafe App, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.
CAPTION: Berg 400: Giniel de Villiers abd Dennis Murphy, defending their title. Picture: Motorpress