Toyota blasts to 3rd consecutive title
GABORONE – Toyota tightened its grip on the 1000 km Desert Race after bagging a third consecutive victory and 14th overall in Jwaneng over the weekend.
Toyota’s path to a third consecutive victory was paved after nearest rivals, Nissan withdraw from the race, instead preferring to participate in a competition in China.
The defending champions were ruthless, taking the three podium positions to ward off competition from Ford and Volkswagen.
South African, Giniel De Villiers made a triumphant return after a year’s absence as he roared to the finish line ahead of last season’s winner, Leeroy Poulter.
It was a fierce race from the two team mates from Toyota Gazoo Racing team, as only 10seconds separated the two in the production vehicles category.
Johan Horn from Malalane Toyota came third. De Villiers said it was a tight race right to the finish line.
“We pushed until the end. I think this is the closet race in the history of the Desert Rac,” he said.
Poulter also admitted it was a close contest, after he trailed on the first day and tried to make up for time on the second.
“I did my best to catch up with Gini,” Poulter said after the two-day event, which took drivers through a tough desert terrain.
Meanwhile, local motorsport fans had something to cheer as Motswana rider; Ross Branch confirmed his dominance of the bike category.
Branch finished first to consolidate his lead in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), of which the Desert Race is part of.
The next event on the calendar is the Eeram Farmers 400 near Harrismith in the Free State.
The race is a new event on the calendar and will offer SACCS competitors a fresh challenge.
Branch remained on top of the standings with just two rounds of the series left.
“It was a tough race, but this morning (Sunday) I took control and I enjoyed it. There were about 100guys behind me when we started this morning, so it was tough. But I enjoyed it as I was racing in front of my home fans,” Branch said.
The Desert Race is a qualifier for the Dakar Rally which takes place in South America at the beginning of each year.