The second round of the 2017 South African Cross Country Series is scheduled for May 12 and 13, and Toyota Gazoo Racing SA is geared up and ready to face the challenge of the Battlefields 400. The race will be run in the area around Dundee in Kwazulu-Natal, and promises some tight racing as Class FIA sports new entries this time around.
Defending champions Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie are the undeniable favourites for overall honours, as the pair remain unbeaten since 2015. Poulter is fresh from a third-place finish on the Qatar Cross Country Rally, which was won by the fellow Toyota Hilux crew of Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel.
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy will be aiming to keep them honest, however, especially after missing out on a finish during Round 1, the Lichtenburg 400.
“Both Leeroy and Giniel are looking forward to the weekend’s racing,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall. “With that said, they had the run of Class FIA on Round 1, but this time round, they’ll be facing more competition. Even so, we’ve continued the development of the Toyota Hilux in line with our Dakar programme, and we have every reason to be confident.”
The top class in the South African Cross Country Series will be bolstered on the Battlefields 400 with the addition of two Class FIA Nissan Navaras and one Class FIA Renault Duster. At the same time, the pack in Class T, will be aiming to hunt down early championship leaders, Johan and Werner Horn in their Malalane Toyota Hilux.
The Horn brothers drew first blood in the 2017 championship, when they came through to take line honours on the opening round. The pair clearly benefited from an upgraded engine in their proven Toyota Hilux, and blitzed the field despite a so-so qualifying performance.
They will be facing stiff competition from the Ford Ranger battalion, with two Volkswagen Amaroks also in the chase.
The Battlefields 400 kicks off with a qualifying race at 13:00 on Friday, 12 May. The main race takes place on Saturday morning at 08:00. The DSP and race HQ will be based at the Battlefields Country Lodge near Dundee, and access to all facilities and spectator points are free of charge.