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Toyota Gazoo going for five at Nkomazi 450


With four straight cross-country victories to his name, as well as five consecutive rally victories, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Leeroy Poulter will head to the Lowveld town of Malalane this weekend, with the aim of preserving his unbeaten record for 2016.

The team will again field two Toyota Hilux race vehicles in Class FIA, with the second vehicle crewed by former champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy. But even though Poulter and navigator Rob Howie are sitting pretty at the top of the championship standings, they’ll certainly be feeling the pressure on the Nkomazi 450.

“There’s no doubt that Leeroy and Rob could win every race this year,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “But our policy has always been to take it one race at a time. We’ve just got to focus on the weekend ahead, and do the best we can.”

 Hall’s pragmatic outlook may be part of the reason for the team’s undeniable success this year. The two FIA-spec Toyota Hilux race vehicles are almost identical to the vehicles they campaign on Dakar, and have recently been in the international spotlight thanks to Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mattieu Baumel’s victories on the FIA’s Cross-Country World Cup.

 On home soil, however, Poulter/Howie currently lead teammates Taylor/Murphy by 40 points in the production category, and with three races to go in the seven-round championship, it seems that Taylor/Murphy are the only competitors with a mathematical chance of catching the flying Poulter/Howie pairing.

Behind the two Class FIA vehicles, the battle for Class T honours rages on. 4x4 Mega World’s Jason Venter and navigator Vince van Alleman currently lead the championship in their Toyota Hilux, but their lead is a slender eight points – and former champion Chris Visser (Ford) will be on the hunt in Malalane.

The Nkomazi 450 starts with a qualifying race, at 11:30 on Friday, August 26th. This is followed by the main event at 08:30 the following day. As in the past, the HQ and Designated Service Park will be situated at the Riverview Prep School in Malalane.

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