Defending champions, Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy in the other Castrol Team Toyota, occupied the second step on the podium, 1:12 behind leaders, Poulter and Howie.
Filling in the third and final step on the podium were home-based Pietermaritzburg crew, Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in the Ford Performance Ranger - which suffered several hiccups, attributed to the dusty conditions - finished a respectable 3:32 behind the winning Hilux.
According to winning driver, Leeroy Poulter, the sugarcane fields of the Eston area are usually damp, with very little dust. “In the extremely dry conditions, as experienced during the rally, there was an extreme amount of dust, which played a pivotal role in this year's race," Poulter explained after the race.
Third placing driver, Lance Woolridge, confirmed this. “The dust made this race very difficult right from the start, but we salvaged what we could and scored valuable championship points with third place,” he said.
The next race for the 2015 cross-country calendar is the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, which will take place during the last week of June in the unforgiving area of Jwaneng in southern Botswana.