Motorsport in their blood, says Malelane Toyota brothers

The toughest part of motorsport is to find sponsors, then a partner.

Malelane Toyota 1

But there is no quicker way than sponsoring yourself through your own business and pulling your brother into the cockpit.

This is the case with the Horn brothers, Johan and Werner, who have the automotive industry coursing in their veins as the heartbeat of their grit and passion.

Decades ago, back in 1942, the family business, Malalane Garage, was established by Johan Horn senior’s father, Nico, when he and then business associate, Rob Ferreira, invested in the franchises for Borgward cars, International tractors and Pegasus fuel.

Today the business is known as Malalane Toyota and it’s in the capable hands of the motorsport brothers who took over the dealership from Johan senior who transformed the business and relaunched it in 1979 as the Malalane Group.

After growing exponentially over the years, today the Malalane Group includes various businesses, dealerships and franchises predominantly focused on the automotive sector, servicing the local Mpumalanga community, including agriculture, forestry, tourism and even the construction industry.

“The Group, headquartered in the tropical agricultural and tourist hub of Malalane in Mpumalanga, is an integral part of our family, and Leonie and I are proud of the commitment and loyalty our three sons, Johan junior, Francois and Werner have brought to the organisation,” said CEO and Dealer Principal, Johan Horn senior.

The Horn family all have a deep-rooted and proud heritage in the area and over the years their commitment to the community has seen no boundaries, including creating employment opportunities, implementing career skills programmes, building schools, initiating feeding schemes and supporting sports and cultural events to attract tourism to the area,” says Horn senior.

Technicians Piet Beetge, Jan van Loggerenberg and JP Coetzee, driver Johan Horn (Jnr), mechanic Loveness Nkosi, navigator Werner Horn, Jean and Luan Horn (Johan Jnr’s sons), Leane Olivier (Werner’s fiancée), owner and CEO of Malelane Motors Johan Horn (Snr) and his wife Leoni, and Isabelle Horn (Johan Jnr’s wife).

Horn senior, a cross country competitor in the 1980s, passed his passion for motorsport on to two of his sons, Johan junior and Werner, who clinched the 2020 SA National Off-Road Series (SACCS) Class T championship just last weekend (25 October).

“We have always enjoyed a high level of support from our parents, and they encouraged us to be self-sufficient and conscientious,” recalls Johan junior. “My newfound interest in Cross Country racing encouraged me to design and engineer my first cross country vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, which I built during 2006 and 2007. To my dismay, we rolled it on the first test run, and I had to start from scratch.”

Werner also followed in his father’s and older brother Johan’s footsteps when it came to motorsport. A self-confessed motorcycle enthusiast, Werner combines his love of off-road and enduro motorcycle racing with co-driving for brother Johan in the SACCS Cross Country championship.

After many years racing a home-built Land Cruiser, the brothers changed to a Hilux and won the runners-up Class T trophy in 2014 and 2015, as well as being second overall in 2015.

The brothers won their first Class T championship in 2017 and were again second overall.

“It was a dream come true and something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” the brothers reckon. “There is nothing better than winning a national class title and being placed second, behind the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux of Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy in the Overall Production Vehicle category, was awesome,” Werner says.

In 2018, the championship went to the Ford Ranger team of Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable, and when the curtain dropped at the final round in 2019, the Parys 400, the Ford team of Woolridge/Huxtable that made in two in a row and relegated the Malalane Toyota Hilux pair as runners-up.

This year the roles were swopped, and after a tough, extremely short season of only five races, it was the Toyota Malalane Hilux team that came out tops as Class T champions, cementing their second national championship, after winning the season opener and the final event, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Vaal 400.

“The only really good event we had this year was the Dullstroom 400, and then the Lockdown came. After racing restarted, we didn’t finish the Bronkhorstspruit event because of drive-train problems, and then in Bothaville the power steering packed up. It’s not easy to drive an off-road racing vehicle without that, and in some places Werner had to help me with the steering!”

The pair had a good start in the last double-header event for rounds 4 and 5 in Parys, but gearbox problems held them back. “We couldn’t go quicker than about 120 km/h and finished third.”

The Horns were back to their winning ways on the final round the next day and although they only qualified second quickest, they managed to win the event and seal their second championship.

“Now it’s back to work. We had a slow month in October as the plant changed from the old Hilux to the new version and we had a shortage of stock. We sell mostly Hilux bakkies and Fortuner SUVs here in the top eastern agricultural corner of the country, but next month should be much better.”

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