Castrol Team Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie have secured the 2015 Donaldson Cross-Country Championship, after winning the penultimate round in Vryburg on Saturday 12 September. The pair led the race from start to finish, and, with the exception of two punctures on the second loop, their Toyota Hilux never missed a beat. They finally arrived at the finish more than 17 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, sealing the championship in the process.
Toyota Team Principal Glyn Hall says: ‘It was a stunning victory for Leeroy and Rob. They won all but one round of the championship so far, and certainly deserve to be champions.’ For navigator Howie, this is his second cross-country title, after he won his first beside driver Duncan Vos in 2012. Poulter competed in his first full season of cross-country racing in 2014, and managed to finish fourth in the championship.
This year, however, he stamped his authority on the series. Poulter says: ‘We’ve had a fantastic year in cross-country racing so far. Today’s race was fast and really tough, but we managed to achieve the result we came here for.’ Poulter/Howie’s dominance and championship victory somewhat overshadowed the results achieved by a number of other Toyota crews. Second overall was the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner, who achieved their best finish this season in the Malalane Toyota Hilux.
They were joined on the podium by 4×4 Mega World’s Jason Venter and navigator Vince Van Alleman in another Toyota Hilux, making it a clean sweep for Toyota. Further back, defending champions Anthony Taylor and navigator Dennis Murphy, in the second Castrol Team Toyota Hilux, were forced to participate in the mass start, after damaging the suspension on their race vehicle during the prologue and failing to complete the qualifying loop. Taylor says: ‘It was very disappointing for us. Even so we managed to pass a number of competitors and finally clawed our way back to fifth place overall.’
In Class S, for vehicles with solid rear axles and engines up to four liters in capacity, it was defending champions Jannie Visser and navigator Joks Le Roux, who brought their Toyota Hilux home in first place. For the men from Vryburg, this weekend’s outing was only their second race of the season, but they came back with a vengeance. Behind them, the Nissan crew of Rómulo Branco and João Serôdio finished in second place, with Heinie Strumpher and Henri Hugo, in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux rounding out the podium.
Hall adds: ‘In the end it was a fine racing weekend for Toyota. A clean sweep in the overall standings, and a first and third place in Class S. Can’t ask for much more than that.’ The final round in the Donaldson Cross-Country Championship is the Atlas Copco Gold 450, which takes place in the area near Westonaria on 30 and 31 October, 2015.