Toyota Gazoo's Lategan clinches SA Cross Country Championship in Parys

• 2020 SACCS Production title for Lategan/Cummings

• Victory for Lategan/Cummings in final round of 2020

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA's Henk Lategan and navigator Brett Cummings romped to victory in the final round of the 2020 South African Cross-Country Series that took place in Parys on 23 and 24 October. 

The pair also clinched their second consecutive championship title.  

The pair recorded a second-place finish in the Ford Parys 400, which was held on the Friday; and a win in the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Vaal 400, which took place on the Saturday.

"We had some bad luck during Friday's race, and even though we pushed as hard as we could, two punctures put paid to our chances," said Lategan after completing the double-header in the Free State. “Even so, second place was enough to secure the title, with one round to go."

toyota gazoo racing

Image: Motorpress

The win on Friday went to Chris Visser and Danie Stassen, in the Total Excillium-sponsored Class FIA Toyota Hilux.

The burly farmer and businessman made the most of Lategan's misfortune, to take his first win of the year, breaking Lategan's five-race winning streak in the process. But Lategan was determined to fight back on the next round.

That round followed the next day, and the newly crowned champions didn't put a foot wrong in their quest for victory. It turned out to be an uneventful race, as the Hilux never missed a beat, and the pair romped to victory over teammates Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro, in an identical car.

toyota

Image: Motorpress

The weekend brought mixed results for Lategan's two teammates, De Villiers and Shameer Variawa. The Dakar legend De Villiers, who reunited with Spanish navigator Alex Haro for the final race weekend of the season, finished fourth on Friday, but improved to second place on Saturday.

Multiple punctures proved his undoing, but a win in the qualifying race for Saturday's event saw the man from Stellenbosch lead the way initially.

There were more punctures for the former Dakar winner and that allowed Lategan and Cummings through, relegating De Villiers and Haro to second place and handing the team a one-two finish in the final race of the year.

toyota

Image: Motorpress

Variawa and navigator Dennis Murphy also suffered multiple punctures on the opening race, and ended up in seventh place as a result. More punctures slowed them during Saturday's race, but they moved up one spot, finishing as the sixth-fastest crew on the day.

"We are extremely pleased to have won a second successive championship with Henk and Brett," said Gazoo Racing team principal, Glyn Hall. 

"They proved again just how tough and reliable our Class FIA Toyota Hilux is, over any type of terrain."

toyota gazoo racing

Image: Motorpress

Preparation for 2021 Dakar Rally 

Toyota says the team has traditionally used the SACCS as a base for the development and testing of its Hilux, and 2020 was no exception. According to the team numerous gains were made in the performance of the car and its suspension over the course of the shortened season, in preparation for the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January 2021.

AFP reported that the second edition of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, scheduled to run from January 3-15 next year, will start and finish in Jeddah after venturing through the desert and along the Rea Sea, organisers revealed Thursday.

The 2021 version of the gruelling 12-day marathon will take participants into uncharted territory, with all timed sections of the loop course brand new to the race.

Competitors will set off from Jeddah towards the east and then head north, with a rest day in Ha'il on January 9, before tracing the Red Sea coastline back to the finish.

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