TOYOTA ANNOUNCES TOP TEAMS TO CONTEST NATIONAL OFFROAD AND RALLY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Toyota South Africa Motors has announced a formidable line-up of talent and experience to contest the 2014 national offroad and rally championships. Toyota Motorsport South Africa won the 2013 drivers’, co-drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships and the 2013 rally manufacturers’ championship.
Backed by the same sponsor with whom it has partnered for more than 30 years – together they have accumulated 10 national rally championships and 10 offroad championships - the Castrol Team Toyota squad will field a new contender in offroad racing and a combination of established and new driver/co-driver lineups in both disciplines.
Reigning offroad champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy will debut the Dakar-spec independent rear suspension version of Toyota’s Hilux in the opening round in pursuit of their second and Toyota’s 17th offroad championship. This is the same vehicle in which Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz finished a remarkable fourth overall and first in the petrol-powered 4x4 class in the Dakar Rally in South America in January. Toyota will be chasing its eighth manufacturers’ championship and seventh in succession.
Backing the champions will be the new combination of Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie in the second Dakar-spec Hilux in which Poulter and Howie finished a creditable 33rd in the Dakar Rally in Poulter’s first appearance in the world’s longest and toughest motor race. They were one of just 61 cars out of an original entry of 154 to complete the 14-day 9 500-kilometre marathon through Argentina and Chile.
The Castrol Toyota rally team has a new look about it. While Leeroy Poulter and Elvéne Coetzee return to do battle in the premier S2000 class in a Castrol Team Toyota Yaris, twice former national champion Hergen Fekken makes his Toyota debut in the second Yaris. Carolyn Swan, who read the notes for now-retired Johnny Gemmell in 2013 (they finished second in the championship), returns to complete the new pairing. Toyota will be chasing its 12th drivers’/co-drivers’ championship and 22nd manufacturers’ championship.
Toyota Motorsport will again prepare and enter a third Yaris, in Imperial colours, for Giniel de Villiers and Greg Godrich. In their first season together, they finished fourth overall and third in S2000 in 2013.
Selected Toyota privateers in both offroad and rallying will enjoy support from Toyota Motorsport. In offroad they include Thomas Rundle (Godrich Toyota Hilux), who finished an excellent 25th in the Dakar Rally at his first attempt, Jason
Venter (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) and Johan Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux). All three will compete in the top T class for vehicles with engines above four litres and all three vehicles are ex-Toyota Motorsport Hilux V8s. Rundle’s is the independent rear suspension Hilux in which De Villiers and Von Zitzewitz finished second in the 2013 Dakar Rally, while Venter and Horn have acquired last season’s Toyota Motorsport national championship contenders.
“We have some exciting changes for the new season,” said Toyota Motorsport team principal Glyn Hall. “Leeroy comes to the domestic offroad championship fresh from an impressive debut in the Dakar. Hergen is a double national champion and a very welcome and valuable addition to the rally team. I believe we have a formidable line-up in both disciplines and the whole team is looking forward to the new season with great enthusiasm.
“Privateers are the backbone of motorsport and Toyota will continue to support teams in both offroad and rallying. In rallying they include Namibian Wilro Dippenaar and Kes Naidoo in an S2000 Challenge PZN Panelbeaters/McCarthy Toyota Auris and three Toyota Etios R2 machines in S1600.
“Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle will share a Yato Tools Etios R2, Chris Coertse and Mari van der Walt will be in an Electrothread Etios and Matthew Vacy-Lyle and Schalk van Heerden will compete in a Fragram Tools example.
“It is important that we recognise the efforts of privateers in our cars and we are particularly keen to support up-and-coming rallyists in the two-wheel drive S1600 class and help them gain the experience and skills to graduate to the senior four-wheel drive class,” Hall added.
The opening round of the Donaldson Offroad Championship is the RFS 450, which takes place in the Harrismith area of the Free State on February 28 and March 1.
The rally championship gets underway on March 14 and 15 with the traditional season-opener in KwaZulu-Natal.
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, Imperial Toyota Group, Innovation Group, Bosch, DeWalt, Donaldson, Edgecam, Ferodo, 4x4 Mega World, NGK, SKF and Spanjaard.
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