The 2014 instalment of the fourth round of the Donaldson Cross-Country event, the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, has come and gone with Team Castrol Toyota once again showing that class is permanent. After winning the same event last year at Kumakwane, they made it two in a row at two different venues. It was a classic case of Team Castrol Toyota achieving a clean sweep on the Southern Africa's premier cross-country event, when a glorious Anthony Taylor, with copilot Dennis Murphy beside him, led from early on Day 1 to take the honours after 1,000 km of frantic cross-country racing. Teammates Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie came in second place, driving a sister Hilux, 32 seconds behind the winners whilst a third-place finish went to the Malalane Toyota Hilux set of Johan and Werner Horn, to further reinforce Toyota's stranglehold in the standings.
The Team Castrol Toyota pair built an early lead over their competitors’ right from the moment the flag dropped, signalling the start of what is by far one of the most spectacular events on the Southern African motorsport calendar.
This time the event had moved to Jwaneng some 170 km north-west of the Botswana capital, Gaborone from its traditional place of Kumakwane. A complete new route saw all the teams tackling an all new terrain for the third time this year and this meant that the playing field was level for all the competitors, turning Round 4 of the Championship into a fair fight for all.
With the race having passed the half way line and the sun rising on a Sunday morning, the clock ticking towards 0800hrs and drivers as well as bikers and all revving up their engines in preparation for the final laps, many spectators who were now coming in numbers to the finishing point, it was seemingly clear that the writing was on the wall. Toyota was emerging out of the last corner ahead of the pack.
The emergence out of the last corner by the twosome of Anthony Taylor, and Dennis Murphy - a pair that led from early on Day 1 to take the honours after 1,000 km of frantic cross-country racing - sent the crowd on over the top.
"For us, this is an historic victory," beamed an elated Glyn Hall (Team Principal) after Taylor took the chequered flag. "Anthony and Dennis drove an inspired race to take the win, after qualifying in seventh place on Friday. Leeroy and Rob did everything required and took second place with no major incidents."
On another development, local sensation Ross Branch was simply in a class of his own, winning the bike section 30 minutes ahead of the second placed rider. It was his third win in four years.
Speaking to Xavier Gavory, who is the Deputy General Manager of the Dakar Rally after the race, he said all went well and that he was impressed by how the event was organised. “The facilities were first rate, the route was properly marked and that it is not always easy to host events of this magnitude so successfully,” he said. The event, he said, will go a long in ensuring that the country is globally rated amongst the best sport tourism destinations of choice.