Hilux rules at SA Off Road finaleComment on this story
The final round of the Absa Off-Road Championship saw Castrol Toyota Hilux drivers Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin clinch their first win of the season, while team-mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie clinched the Production Vehicle and SP Class championships by following in second place.
For Vos it was SA title number five with Howie tasting championship success for the first time - and the pair will go to next year's Dakar Rally in South America as undisputed South African champions.
Vos and Howie went into the race knowing that even a non finish would give them the Production Vehicle title ahead of former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the factory Ford Racing Ranger, who were in a must win situation.
TOYOTA vs FORD
The SP Class title, however, was up for grabs in a straight fight between the two Team Castrol Toyota crews and the Ford pair with a disappointing seventh finally blowing Visser and Badenhorst out of contention.
"After three wins in a row, including the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, it looked as though we would wrap everything up earlier in the season," said Vos. "We stumbled a little in the latter half of the year, but we finally got the job done.
Vos and Howie had a 2m48s advantage over Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the RFS BMW X3.
Behind the first three only 53 seconds separated the next three cars with Harrismith pair Kobus van Tonder and Freddie Kriel (UniFreight Ford Ranger) leading home last year's overall and SP Class champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (International Toyota Hilux) and veteran former champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the second RFS BMW X3.
The race provided an emotional end to a 36-year career in motorsport for the ever popular Grobler.
Notable retirements were Donaldson Prologue winners Gary Bertholdt and Ralph Pitchford (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Archie Rutherford and cricket legend Jonty Rhodes in the SA Warranties Nissan Navara and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable in the second Ford Racing Ranger.
Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen wrapped up the Special Vehicle championship in their Motorite BAT Venom.
They went into the race locked in a three-way championship battle with Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco BAT) and brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis in a Zarco.
By the end of the first of the two 170km loops that made up the race it was all over bar the shouting.
In wet and muddy conditions van Staden/Lawrenson and the du Plessis brothers had fallen off the radar by the end of the first loop. At the halfway point Hutchison and Stassen reported a clear run while the Atlas Copco crew retired with a broken side-shaft.
For the du Plessis brothers it was a long day at the office. After a litany of problems they eventually limped home 12th overall and eighth in Class A.