There will be added pressure for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings to score maximum points at this weekend’s Vryburg 400, the penultimate round of the 2021 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS).
The Toyota Hilux crew find themselves with a slender lead of two points over Ford’s Lance Woolridge in the Class FIA championship, with only two rounds to go. To make matters even more interesting, the same crews are split by only seven points in the overall fight for the Production Vehicle title, with the Toyota crew leading the way.
“The key for us will be to have a clean race this weekend,” says TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “With just two rounds remaining, we have to give Henk and Brett the best possible chance to win the race. Our focus has to be on the title at this point.”
With that said, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy will continue testing the team’s Toyota Hilux Dakar prototype, which will compete in the new T1+ category at Dakar 2022. De Villiers lead the championship until the previous round, when he elected to continue the development of the new car – sacrificing his title hopes, as the prototype is not eligible to score points in the SACCS.
“Giniel and Dennis did a great job with the T1+ last time out,” continues Hall. “The car is clearly showing potential, and we’ve refined it even further for the upcoming race in Vryburg. The lads will be concentrating on validating those refinements, and also continue working on further developments as we head towards Dakar.”
The third Toyota Hilux will again be in the hands of Shameer Variawa and co-driver Danie Stassen. This car is powered by the race-winning V8 engine, rather than the new twin-turbo V6 that runs in Henk’s car as well as the T1+ prototype. Even so, Variawa will be aiming to improve on his position in the championship, which is currently outside of the Top 10 in Class FIA.
In Class T, the Horn brothers will be hoping to reach the top step of the podium in their Malalane Toyota Hilux, after a disappointing result at the previous round. The defending Class T champions find themselves in fourth place in the standings, 46 points behind the leader in the title chase.
The Vryburg 400 will start with a qualifying race on Friday, 29 October at 13:00. This loop of 42 km will determine the starting position for Saturday’s main event, which is set to kick off at 08:00. Two loops of 180 km will see the SACCS crews slug it out over a wide variety of terrain types. The Designated Service Park (DSP) remains closed to spectators, though vaccinated members of the public will be allowed to view the racing from various points along the route.