Words: Charmaine Fortune
Castrol Team Toyota's Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie have an opportunity to clinch the 2015 Donaldson Cross-Country Championship this weekend, when they line up for the Vryburg Endurance - Round 5 of the six-round national championship.
The pair have won all but one round of the championship this year, though they also won the first heat of the Toyota 1,000 Desert Race, bringing their Castrol Team Toyota Hilux home in third place overall at the end of the event. This has given them a total of 138 points, and with their closest rivals 44 points behind, the pair needs to attain a third place or better in Vryburg, in order to be crowned champions.
Their closest rivals are defending champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy, who campaign an identical Castrol Team Toyota Hilux. The pair have had a strong season themselves, though a DNF on the previous round - the Nkomazi 450 in Malalane - dropped them further behind in the championship.
With that said, Taylor/Murphy are 43 points ahead of the nearest crews - and those crews both campaign Toyota Hilux race vehicles. Jason Venter (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) and Johan Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) are tied for third place, giving Toyota a clean sweep at the top of the standings.
"It has been a fantastic season for us so far," says Castrol Team Toyota's Team Principal, Glyn Hall. "Both Castrol Team Toyota crews have performed extremely well, and the fact that Leeroy and Rob are in a position to wrap things up with one round to spare bears testament to that."
The Vryburg Endurance will also see the return of defending Class S champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in their Toyota Hilux. The pair have taken part in only one race so far this season (Toyota 1,000 Desert Race), but with Vryburg being the spiritual home of cross-country racing in South Africa, and the pair both hailing from the area, they have decided to join the fray once more.
Class S, for vehicles with engines of four liters and solid rear axles, are lead by Heinie Strumpher and navigator Henri Hugo (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux). The pair are just nine points clear of their nearest rivals, Romulo Branco and João Serôdio (Nissan), so the fight for the Class S championship is far from over.
Battle commences in the Northwest town of Vryburg at 10:30 on Friday, September 11, with a prologue race to determine the starting positions for the main event. The Vryburg Endurance starts at 07:30 on Saturday, September 12, with the start and finish at the Vryburg Motor Club on the outskirts of town.
Toyota Motorsport South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Supplier and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Castrol, Toyota Financial Services, Innovation Group, Imperial Toyota Group, Bosch, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, Smith Manufacturing, NGK, SKF, Reiger and Spanjaard.
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