Cross Country Series: Toyota looks to stretch lead

The results of the recent ultra-tough Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana had a significant effect on the 2019 South African Cross Country Series point standings.

After three days of racing, blinding dust, gnarly rocks and an extremely tight route, successful teams were rewarded with double points and those who experienced problems along the way will have their work cut out for them during the final three events of the season.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing team of Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings now hold the overall Production Vehicle and FIA Class points leads, followed by Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger) and Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Hilux).

A good outing in Botswana resulted in Shameer Variawa/Juan Möhr (Toyota Gazoo Hilux) moving up one position into fourth place overall, ahead of Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger), Chris Visser/Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) and the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner (Malalane Toyota Hilux).

In Class T, four victories on the trot have put Woolridge/Huxtable in quite a comfortable position as they lead the Horn brothers by 54 points. While it seems that Woolridge/Huxtable are on their way to retain their Class T championship title, a real battle is brewing behind them as the Horns are only two points ahead of Gareth Woolridge/Dreyer.

In the Manufacturer’s Championship, Toyota (292) lead Ford (166), with Nissan (107) third. Renault has 30 points.

The Toyota Desert Race rewarded Special Vehicle teams who managed to complete all three days successfully, handsomely. After winning the first two events of the season and claiming two more victories in Botswana, Lance Trethewey and Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT) are comfortably in the overall lead of the Special Vehicle championship.

They have built a solid buffer of 61 points ahead of John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT), who have a slender points lead over the Moosajee brothers Taahir and Talha (Dunlop Zone Stryker), Clint Gibson/Alaric Smith (Dirtsport Stryker), NicGoslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco) plus Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck and husband, Jaco in their Total Agri Porter.

Botswanan driver Julio Ferreira, who teamed up with Johan Basson (Aceco) for his annual pilgrimage to the Desert Race, was rewarded with enough points to put him in eighth place overall, just eight points ahead of Ralph/ Andre’ Voigts (Dirtsport BAT) and Keith du Toit (Porter) rounds off the overall drivers’ standings, four points behind Voigts.

Things look a little different in the Class A championship as competitors are awarded an additional five points for starting a race. Trethewey/Roets still lead the class championship, but here they are 59 points ahead of the Moosajee brothers with Telford/Ntsekhe a mere two points behind them on the third step of the podium.

The standings in the Side x Side National Championship (SxS NC), where all competitors compete with identical Can-Am Maverick models, has a totally different look after the TDR 1000.

Brothers Werner and Leon Mostert in the Moto-Netix CanAm Maverick have a comfortable lead as 51 points separate them from Wickus Haasbroek/Jurgens Smith, who are 15 points ahead of Christo Rose/Dirk Swart.

The battles for the 2019 South African Cross Country titles will continue on August 2 and 3 when teams tackle the Bronkhorstspruit 400.

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