Toyota Motorsport has prepared a formidable pair of new, Class E Hilux 4x4 bakkies for the 2003 national off-road championship supporting the efforts of the Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser "Super Truck" of multiple champions of Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton. -

- With the Class T super bakkie the lone Castrol Toyota works entry in this top class challenged by defending champions Nissan (with a quartet of modified Hardbody pick-ups), Toyota Motorsport have now turned their attention to the traditional "off-road champion of Africa", none other than the Hilux bakkie. -

- With new vehicles built and prepared for veteran off-road champion Kassie Coetzee and newcomer Mark Cronjé, the pair of Hiluxes will support the efforts of Reyneke and Houghton in the coveted manufacturer’s trophy as well as class honours in Classes T and E of the Production Vehicle Category. -

- The eight-round season opens on March 21/22 with the first-ever national championship off-road race in the Western Cape, the Nissan 400 in Darling. -

- A host of new machinery is expected in all categories, but the eyes will be on the lone entries pitted against the three Dakar-specification Nissan bakkies in Class T and an additional Hardbody for motorcycle ace Alfie Cox. -

- The dramatic finish of the 2002 season will long be remembered. Nissan Class D campaigners Duncan Vos and Mike Griffiths, who earned a 2003 drive in a Class T Super Truck for their efforts, clinched the overall Production Vehicle Driver’s and Navigator’s championships because of the demise of Ford's challenge in the last event of the year. Unfortunately the Ford Ranger of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer will not be repaired in time for the Cape event. -

- “This season we are in a better position to challenge the opposition,” said Toyota Motorsport Manager Wammy Haddad. “We completely rebuilt the 2002 Castrol Land Cruiser with a few smaller changes to the vehicle that won the 2002 opening event, but the Nissan 400 will be the real test for our improved specification,” he said. -

- Both Class E Hiluxes are brand new near-standard production bakkies, constructed to the limited specification changes allowed for this off-road racing formula. -

- “The bakkies are basically race-prepared road-going vehicles with the same engines, gearboxes and suspensions as that of vehicles that can be bought from a Toyota showroom floor. Only limited changes are allowed to certain components, but original Toyota components for those specific vehicles must be used,” he said. -

- The Hilux 2700i petrol engine version will be driven by Mark Cronjé with the assistance of veteran navigator Chris Birkin, while Kassie Coetzee and Ockie Fourie compete in the diesel-powered version. -


Original article from Car