Toyota Motorsport are taking no chances in the gamble of off-road racing with the sixth round of the eight-round SA Off-Road Championship for Production Vehicles, presented by Absa.

With a full hand in one Class Championship and the dice rolling in any direction in another, Toyota Motorsport have ensured their two official entries are on top form.

“We have completely re-built both bakkies after a gruelling Tarkastad event and we're looking at giving the Nissans a run for their money – both on the event as well as in the Casino,” said Toyota Motorsport Manager Whammy Haddad.

The Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser entry of multiple champions Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton has been dealt a bad hand in most of the previous five events of the 2003 championship, with a second position in the opening event of the season their best performance up to date.

“The Sun City 400 is usually a very tricky event and with the rainy season starting, the weather could play an important part in the final results,” said Haddad with reference to an event three or four years ago when only a single competitor was a classified finisher.

With Reyneke/Houghton out of the running for overall or Class T honours, the team are now focussed on developing the vehicle for next year and perfecting the chances of Mark Cronjé and Chris Birkin in the Class E Castrol Hilux.

Not only do they have a possible Straight Flush in Class E with a healthy lead over Sugarbelt winners Manfred Schröder and Jack Peckham (Ford Ranger), but possibly a Royal Flush as well depending on the last card dealt to them in the last two Casino based events of the season (the Sun City race this weekend and the Carnival City Casino 400 in November) split by the new Toyota Dealers’ Mpumalanga 400 Off-Road in October.

“The Toyota privateers had a good run in Class E in Tarkastad and we are hoping they can keep it up and bring in more points for Toyota. Piet Haasbroek has had a tough season in his Class D Castrol Land Cruiser, but he is confident of improving his overall and Class D points position at Sun City,” said Haddad.

Toyota Motorsport had a very successful off-road racing outing in the recent Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400, with Cronjé and Birkin back in winning form, taking the honours in Class E in a blistering performance in their Castrol Hilux 2700i 4x4. The combination of youthful talent behind the controls and racing experience of several years in the navigator’s seat again paid off with Cronjé/Birkin also kicking dust in the face of the complete Class D-entry with their much more powerful machinery.

“It was one of the roughest races I’ve raced in,” said Cronjé who has only made his off-road debut this year, kicking off with what was thought to be an unprecedented class victory.

Since then he has proved it was not just luck – after his first race and victory, it was followed by a second in class in the Sugarbelt 400 after a roll in the prologue, first in his class in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, his first marathon event ever, and a disappointing 6th in the Mafikeng event when they got lost in the prologue.

“The roll in the Sugarbelt event was my fault and part of my learning curve, but I had nothing to do with the fact that we lost nearly half a hour on the Mafikeng event- but now Chris and I are even with no more mistakes for the rest of the year,” Cronjé said.

With a total of three class victories so far, and three events to go, it looks as if Cronjé is set to rewrite the record books…

Original article from Car