Taylor/Murphy win at Sun City 450

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A second win this season for Anthony Taylor and Denis Murphy with Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable keeping alive their Class T title hopes were the main issues to emerge from the Production Vehicle brigade on the Sun City 450, the penultimate round of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, here today.

Former champions Taylor and Murphy made sure the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA squad kept their unbeaten record over two seasons, with a comfortable enough win over team-mates Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and Rob Howie. Rautenbach was standing in for South African champion Leeroy Poulter, who recently underwent surgery to remove an anomalous growth from the right side of his brain, with the two Toyota Hilux’s running in the FIA Class.

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Third place went to former champion Visser and Huxtable in the Neil Woolridge Motorsport/Ford Performance Ranger, with the pair emerging unscathed from the Last Chance Saloon by winning Class T. A tremendous performance ensured Visser/Huxtable would take the Class T title all the way to the wire.

Taylor and Murphy had nearly 12 minutes to spare on Rautenbach and Howie and led throughout the race. The performance of the day, however, belonged to Visser and Huxtable who took full advantage of a dreadful weekend for Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) who led the Class T championship going into the Sun City race.

Venter/van Allemann were plagued by all sort of problems. The pair eventually limped home in 14th place after a weekend to forget with Venter’s father, Deon, and Jaco van Aardt the last of the finishers in 15th place in a new car.

Visser and Huxtable were a little fortunate when they picked up a puncture on the first of the two 152 kilometre loops that made up the race, and the jack malfunctioned. The pair were rescued by team-mates Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer who lent them their jack.

“Other than the puncture we had no issues,” said Visser. “The second loop was a lot faster and we decided to push a little harder.”

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The top five were rounded out by youngsters Woolridge/Dreyer who again impressed with a mature performance, and the ever steady Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson in the Red-Lined Nissan Navara. Less than a minute separated the two with van Staden and Lawrenson revelling in a “proper cross country” route.

There was also a fine performance from Class S championship leaders Otto Graven and Bobby Brewis in the Graven Motorsport Toyota Hilux. The Kimberley-based crew finish sixth overall and increased their lead in the championship for cars under four litres with solid axle rear suspension.

“We had a lot of fun and never had to get out of the car,” said Graven.

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Hennie de Klerk and Adriaan Roets, in their first outing in the Treasury One VW Amarok, were hampered by two flats and fought a duel with Terence Marsh and Justin Hume (Red-Lined Nissan Navara) throughout the second loop. Marsh and celebrity navigator Hume, the marketing director for Samsung who suffered from a bout of motion sickness, were eighth overall and third in the FIA Class.

The top 10 were rounded out by Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) and the second Class S crew in Heinie Strumpher and Henri Hugo in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. For the Horn brothers, who started from the back of the field, it was a far better day than in the qualifying race when they had three punctures and only two spare wheels.

The final event on the Donaldson calendar will be the Atlas Copco 450 on the West Rand on October 28 and 29. The race will run in conjunction with the final rounds of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship and the SA Cross Country Motorcycle and Quad Championships.

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