Clean sweep for Toyota Hilux in Human Auto 400
This all new event on the calendar through up a number of challenges for competitors with its mix of wide open straight and flat out sections, and tough technical sections. Wild weather on parts of the route during Saturday’s racing section added a further element of variety.
At the end of the 400 kilometre event just one second separated the Hilux SP of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Castrol) from the Ford of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjöldhammer as they crossed the line in the wake of a thunderstorm that transformed the run up to the finish in a quagmire.
It was these treacherous conditions that robbed Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren of a close fought second place. They slid off the route and into a culvert just 300 metres from the finish and crossed the line with steering on just one wheel on their RFS Hilux just 26 seconds adrift of Woolridge despite the time wasted extricating themselves from the ditch.
Further down the order Deon Venter and Ian Palmer brought their 4X4 Megan World Hilux home at the head of Class D and in 13th place overall. They were followed across the line by Pikkie Labuschagne and Rickus Erasmus in their Class E 4X4 Mega World Hilux.
“Toyota would like to thank the privateer Hilux teams for their continued support and good results in all the production vehicle classes,” says Ferdi de Vos, General Manager: Corporate Public Relations and Motorsport.
“Not only has their performances again helped to secure the Manufacturer’s Title for Toyota in the National Off Road series; it also in no small way contributes to the top seller status of Hilux in South Africa.”
They were not alone in falling victim to punctures on the rough terrain in the De Brug military training area. At one point as many as six competitors were seen changing wheels within metres of each other. The time lost proved too much to recover and Taylor eventually finished eighth.
Reigning Off Road Champion Duncan Vos had a disappointing run in the prologue, slowed by a minor technical issue, but came alive in the first loop of the racing section.
He overtook some 20 vehicles in the first 70 kilometres to place himself right up at the front of the field before a strap used to limit the extension of the front suspension failed and allowed a shock absorber to pull out of its mount. This delayed Vos and navigator Rob Howie by an hour-and-a-half as they battled their way back to the service point.
“In the prologue Anthony demonstrated that we had the speed and handling over the mixed terrain to win the event. Duncan’s charge through the field in the early part of the racing section underlined that performance but the clean run that we needed to compliment the performance of the vehicles eluded us.
“In the end though the result was a good one for Toyota with wins in all three Production Vehicle classes and six out of the top ten positions filled by Hilux SPs.
“Chris Visser has had a really good season and goes into the final round of the championship with a pretty secure lead. Only Hannes Grobler has any chance of overtaking him but Chris needs just one more point to place him out of reach if Hannes wins the final round.”