The Vryburg 400, penultimate round of the 2021 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS) saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Henk Lategan and co-driver Brett Cummings score maximum points, extending their lead at the top of the championship standings. The Toyota Hilux crew recorded their 2nd victory of the year, beating Ford’s Lance Woolridge by 4sec after a close battle that played out of both race loops of 180km each.
“It was a really tight race today,” said Lategan after reaching the Designated Service Point (DSP) outside Vryburg after the race. “At times we managed to extend our lead, but two punctures in the second loop ensured a very tight finish.”
The pair started their weekend by posting the fourth-fastest time on the Friday’s qualifying race. They strategically managed their pace over the 40km loop, and ended up in a very good road position for the Saturday’s main event.
“There had been good rains in the area over the days preceding the race, and we knew that dust wouldn’t play a major role,” continued Lategan. “Our road position certainly helped, especially early on, before the soil started drying up.”
In the end, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew reported a clean run, other than the two punctures in the second loop. The Class FIA Toyota Hilux didn’t miss a beat, and Lategan/Cummings are overjoyed to have added to their overall points lead with just one round to go. For Cummings, the result in Vryburg sealed the overall 2021 co-driver’s championship in the Production Category.
At the same time, teammates Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen recorded a strong 5th place finish, after suffering a single puncture during the latter part of the race.
Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy continued the development and testing of the team’s new GR DKR Hilux T1+ prototype during the Vryburg 400. The new car cannot score points in the championship, as the SACCS currently doesn’t make provision for this class of vehicle. Even so, the team received special dispensation to use the race as a test, and the team made the most of the opportunity.
“We have been refining a number of components and settings on the car,” explained De Villiers. “A lot of work is still going into the damper setup, and today’s race gave us some very clear data to work with.”
In the Class T championship, brothers Johan and Werner Horn flew the flag for Toyota, by not only winning the qualifying race, but also the main event. The defending champions found themselves on the back foot after failing to score points during the previous two rounds, but redeemed themselves with a resounding victory in Vryburg. The Malalane Toyota lads may not win the title in 2021, but they’re certainly making themselves count.
“Overall, it was a very good weekend for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA, and Toyota overall,” said TGRSA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, after the race. “A win for Henk and Brett was exactly what we needed, and Shameerand Danie drove brilliantly to take 5th place in the hotly contested Class FIA. Giniel and Dennis brought us some valuable data and input as part of our T1+ programme, so we could hardly have asked for more.”
The final round of the 2021 SACCS is set for Saturday, November 20th, in the area surrounding the Freestatetown of Parys.