The 2004 Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, ended in Gaborone on Sunday with reigning Production Vehicle Champions Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke notching up their third successive victory in the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody and Botswana born Atang Makgekgenene becoming the first Motswana to win the event.

Grobler, who suffered from chronic diarrhoea on Sunday’s final 500 kilometre leg, and Leeke finished 30-minutes ahead of Neil Woolridge and Ken Skjoldhammer in the Team Ford Racing Ranger. The Ford started 6-minutes behind the overnight leaders but were slowed when the rear differential failed 60 kilometres into the race, which forced them to complete the first half of the race in front-wheel drive. Technicians replaced the differential in 27-minutes at the designated service point but Woolridge and Skjoldhammer were unable to make any impression on the race-winning Nissan.

Makgekgenene and Buks Carolin were third across the finish line in the Total Jimco and the leading Special Vehicle crew, which was the realisation of a dream for Makgekgenene who, since his childhood, has aspired to being the first Motswana winner of the Toyota 1000 Desert Race. The thousands of fans gathered at the finish in Gaborone swamped their hero who later had to be spirited away by race officials as the masses celebrated the historic win.

Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford in the Arnold Chatz Cars Nissan Hardbody edged out arch rivals Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin in the Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i to finish third overall in the Production Vehicle category and win Class D by a mere 13-seconds. Henri Zermatten and Bodo Schwegler finished seventh overall in the Production Vehicle category and third in Class D in the Master Craft / Playstation Pajero.

Class E championship leaders Hugo and father Jaap de Bruyn picked up the Class E win in their Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i with Zane Pearce and Hennie Vosloo (Castrol Toyota Hilux KZ-TE) second and rookie Gavin Cronje and Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux) third in Class E.

Team Ford Racing’s Baphumze Rubuluza and Khulile Vakalisa finished ninth overall and fourth in Class E and were followed across the line by husband and wife Marius and Tracey van Vuuren in the Class E Bosal / N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux and brothers Jurie and Andre du Plessis in the Class E BB Auto Nissan Hardbody.

Only 12 of the 38 Production Vehicle category starters managed to complete what many regarded as the toughest Toyota 1000 Desert Race in recent years.

On the Special Vehicle front Makgekgenene and Carolin’s victory overshadowed everyone else’s performances, especially in the eyes of their fans, but credit must be given to Clint Gibson and Mike Brown in the Praesidium Financial Services BAT who finished just short of an hour behind the winning crew. The KwaZulu Natal based team survived a variety of problems but soldiered on to finish second and earn valuable points in their quest for the Special Vehicle championship title.

Nick Harper and Andrew Chalupsky kept the BAT flag aloft by finishing third in their Audi V8 powered BAT while Shameer Variawa and Nadeem Dudhia (Oven Fresh Biscuits Porter), who started 72nd on Saturday and sixth on Sunday, finished fourth overall.

The Class S win went to Mohammed Noble and Richard Hope in the Abe’s Furniture Raceco with brothers Hamish and Alistair Stubbs sixth overall and first in Class B. Arnold Pistorius and Theodore Grobler were the last placed Special Vehicle finishers out of a field of 11 that started on Sunday morning.

Original article from Car