VICTORY FOR TGRSA’S DE VILLIERS/MURPHY ON TOUGH SUGARBELT 400
- 1st overall for De Villiers / Murphy
- 2nd overall for Lategan / Cummings
- 1st in Class T for Horn / Horn
ESTON, KwaZulu-Natal – It was a memorable win at the 2021 Sugarbelt 400 for Giniel de Villiers this weekend, as the man from Stellenbosch last won this race in 2001, then partnered with Francois Jordaan. Now, twenty years later, he had Dennis Murphy reading the notes, but the victory was just as sweet as two decades ago.
“We joked before the race, saying it would be nice to make it two wins twenty years apart,” said an elated De Villiers from the Designated Service Park (DSP) near the farming community of Eston, in KwaZulu-Natal. “As it turned out, I can now add a second Sugarbelt trophy to my collection.”
The race was run over exceptionally tricky and rough terrain, with the tunnel vision imposed by the lanes of sugarcane making navigation a challenge. As a result, the attrition rate of the race was high, though both TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Hilux race cars made it through the race without serious mechanical issues.
The weekend started with Henk Lategan winning the 50km-long prologue, despite not having raced since his crash at the Dakar Rally in January. He injured his shoulder in the crash, and required surgery after returning home. As a result, he missed out on the first round of the season, but clearly showed his intent when he returned to the cockpit of the Toyota Hilux.
Lategan and navigator Brett Cummings set about the first race loop with determination, despite having to open the route. The pair set highly competitive times throughout the loop, with teammates De Villiers/Murphy in hot pursuit.
Both crews faced challenges along the way, with Lategan/Cummings losing time when their car started overheating mid-way through the second loop.
“The bracket of our water reservoir came undone, and the system lost pressure as a result. The engine temperature climbed rapidly, and we had to adjust our pace in order to manage the situation,” explained Lategan after the race.
At the same time, De Villiers/Murphy powered ahead, only to suffer two punctures in the second loop of the race. Navigator Murphy was also plagued with motion sickness, and the pair were forced to hunt for the route in places. But in the end, they did enough to secure victory, finishing 1min 52sec ahead of teammates Lategan/Cummings.
“We are very pleased with Giniel and Dennis’ performance today,” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the DSP after the race. “Add to that a solid second place for Henk and Brett on Henk’s return, and we could hardly have asked for more. But then Johan and Werner Horn added the cherry on top, by taking class honours in Class T – their second victory on the trot.”
The Horn brothers, campaigning an older generation Class T Hilux, finished in third place overall, just behind Lategan/Cummings. The pair have stolen an early march in the championship, and will be looking to build on this during Round 3 of the 2021 season.
Next up is the TGRSA 1,000 Desert Race, which has moved from Botswana to a new venue at Upington, in the Northern Cape. The only marathon event of the year is scheduled to take place from 18 to 20 June, and fans can look forward to following much of the action live on both TGRSA and the SACCS’ social media channels.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Toyota Financial Services and the Innovation Group. Also Hallspeed, Motus Toyota, SKF, Spanjaard, OMP, Donaldson, Mastercraft, Edgecam, 3M, Shatterprufe, Supreme Springs, Smith’s Manufacturing, TRD, First National Battery, STR8-LIGN, Duxbury Netgear, Lumotech and Plan-C Productions.