Privateer Cherokee is cat among works pigeons

The Chicago Pneumatic-supported V8 Jeep Cherokee of Arthur Abraham/Stratford Voogt/Scott Abraham had one of its best outings in a national championship off-road race when it finished the 2001 season-opener, the GC Grobler Lichtenburg 400, seventh...

The Chicago Pneumatic-supported V8 Jeep Cherokee of Arthur Abraham/Stratford Voogt/Scott Abraham had one of its best outings in a national championship off-road race when it finished the 2001 season-opener, the GC Grobler Lichtenburg 400, seventh in the Supertruck class last weekend.

After starting Saturday's main event in seventh place overall and third in class after Friday's time trial, Voogt and co-driver Scott Abraham completed the first loop in an excellent seventh place overall, only 2 minutes behind the race leader.

Owner Arthur Abraham took over the driving duties for the second loop and was lying sixth overall with less than 70 km of the 400 km two-day event remaining, when the monster truck was brought to a halt by a flat tyre.

The brand new hydraulic jack failed and a crippling hour was lost on the side of a rocky track in the abandoned diamond diggings of Bakerville before the Abraham father-and-son team could borrow a jack from a fellow competitor and complete the event.

"It was a huge disappointment," said a crestfallen Arthur Abraham at the finish in Lichtenburg. "We worked very hard to rebuild the Jeep after the Pirelli Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa at the end of last year. We had reliability problems in past seasons and we have reverted to the Jeep's original spec to minimise the chance of mechanical failure.

"This weekend it performed faultlessly and we put the wind up the tails of the big-budget factory entries. We showed that not only has the Jeep got the heart to stay with the more fancied factory vehicles, but it was reliable too. This was one of the closest-fought off-road events in many years and, despite our disappointment, we're all very proud of our achievement against such classy competition.

"We said we'd be the cat among the big pigeons, and so it turned out," said Abraham.

The big, bad-looking Jeep with its ominous, deep V8 voice is a firm favourite with the fans. With its powerful performance in the season opener, it can't be long before it rewards it's supporters and it's enthusiastic privateer team with an overall win.

"That's our objective," promised a confident Abraham.

-Arthur Abraham

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