Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Castrol Toyota) scored their second win in a row when they won the Production Vehicle category on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race which ended at Kumakwane on Sunday.
Final results not only gave Toyota their second successive Desert Race victory, but lifted Taylor and Murphy into a tie at the top of the Donaldson Cross-Country Championship with former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger), who finished in third place. Sandwiched between the two works crews after an impressive weekend were North West pair Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo who were never out of the top three.
Taylor/Murphy and Visser/Badenhorst are locked together at the top of the Production Vehicle and premier SP Class championships. Both crews have 85,5 points and the battle lines are drawn for the four remaining events this season.
“I came close to winning last year so this is a bonus,” said Taylor. “We obviously had a good weekend but the rest of the season is going to be interesting.”
Taylor/Murphy and de Bruyn/Hugo fought a running battle throughout what is the only marathon event on the South African national off-road car racing calendar. The factory team took the lead late on Saturday when de Bruyn/Hugo picked up a puncture and then dictated matters from the front.
Taylor eventually ended up eight-and-a-half minutes clear of de Bruyn. The North West crew were under a little pressure in the closing stages with Visser/Badenhorst closing to within 64 seconds. The Ford crew, in turn, only had a minute and 25 seconds to spare over fourth-placed Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the second Castrol Toyota Hilux. Vos and Howie are the reigning SA champions and won last year’s race ahead of Taylor and Chris Birkin.
The top five were rounded out by the RFS BMW X3 pair of Christiaan du Plooy and veteran former SA champion Hennie ter Stege who came out of retirement for this event. Ter Stege replaced du Plooy’s regular co-driver, Henk Janse van Vuuren, whose wife is expecting a baby.
After starting the day in third place, Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Regent Nissan Navara), ran into gearbox problems to gradually slip down the field to finish sixth. There was plenty of compensation for the pair, however, who won the Dakar Challenge and a free entry into next year’s Dakar Rally in South America.
|Fast facts about Botswana Desert Race:|
|2013 Winner||Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Castrol Toyota)|
|Length of course||1000 kilometres|
|Number of years running||38|
Steady performances took Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) and Hennie de Klerk/Keith Solomon (LA Sport BMW X3), into seventh and eighth. The consistent Terence Marsh/Gerhard Schutte (Regent Nissan Navara) ground out a ninth-place finish, and a terrific performance saw the brother-and-sister combination of Jacques and Lizelle van Tonder round out the top 10 in the Uni Freight Ford Ranger for their best result to date.
Young North West crew Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann (Trysome Toyota Hilux) went back to the top of the Class D championship with their third win of the season. Closest challengers Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (LMC Land Rover) and Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn (Malelane Toyota Land Cruiser) were among the crews to fall by the wayside.
Reigning champions Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens were the lone finishers in Class E. They were the last of the classified finishers but 12th overall in the Production Vehicle category was another impressive performance from the pair who consolidated their championship lead.
For the Special Vehicle Class results click here.
Date: 24 June 2013