NISSAN CREW WIN AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY RALLY
BISHO -- Nissan Navara crew Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans, in a factory Nissan Navara, survived a late scare to win the African Heritage Cross Country Rally which ended here today.
Unofficial scoring saw Tollefsen, a Norwegian, and Evans, a Briton, come home more than an hour ahead of Italians Riccardo Garosci and Rudy Briani in the Ralli Art Mitsubishi Pajero. The event was round two of the FIA World Cup and after picking up a two hour penalty Brazilian Paulo Nobre and Portuguese co-driver Felipe Palmeiro, in the X-Raid BMW X3 that started the day in second place, were classified third overall.
Tollefsen and Evans dominated the 1 350 kilometre event over the first three days, but contact with a cow on the second last section of the route almost put an end to their challenge. The Nissan suffered radiator damage, and the crew had to nurse the car over the final section and the short liaison stage to the finish.
The BMW crew also ran into late problems that put them out of the overall reckoning when an off road excursion left them a broken steering rack. They lost time repairing the damage and then a hefty penalty for lateness dropped them behind the Ralli Art Pajero.
Second place was an unexpected bonus for Garosci and Briani who came to South Africa intent only on winning their class. The Mitsubishi won the final leg of the race by four seconds, and could have scored an upset had the Nissan fallen by the wayside.
"It was almost a disaster for us," said Tollefsen. "The damage to the radiator was serious, and it was a touch and go that we would make it through the final section and the liaison stage.
"After dominating the event for three days it would have been heartbreaking to fall out on the final day. We are relived and happy."
A number of South African competitors joined the race on the final two days on an invitation basis. They ran at the back of the field and were not eligible for World Cup points.
The Production Vehicle category was won by Kobus van Tonder and Riaan Guelpa, in the Unifreight Ford Ranger running in the Super Production Class. They came in ahead of Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock, in a Toyota Hilux running to Class D specifications, who finished the race running in two-wheel drive only.
Bloemfontein brothers David and Gary White won the Special Vehicle category in the Ruwacon BAT.