PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP ISSUES SETTLED The recent Ford Carnival City 400 settled a bundle of outstanding Production Car title issues in this year's Absa Off Road Championship. Going into the final event of the season only two Production...
PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP ISSUES SETTLED
The recent Ford Carnival City 400 settled a bundle of outstanding Production Car title issues in this year's Absa Off Road Championship.
Going into the final event of the season only two Production Car titles had been settled beyond doubt -- a second successive SA Manufacturers Championship for Nissan, and a second South Africa drivers championship for Duncan Vos. The overall co-drivers championship was a fight between Nissan team-mates Ralph Pitchford and Francois Jordaan, with the Class D and Class E championships up for grabs.
Former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the factory Ford Racing Ranger, won the Ford Carnival City event to prevent a Nissan clean sweep. Second place for Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Nissan Navara) saw Jordaan clinch the co-drivers' title.
Vos with Pitchford, who missed two events through overseas commitments, finished fifth at Carnival City after a troubled event. Pitchford and Jordaan will both compete in the Dakar Rally with Pitchford a member of the factory Volkswagen team, while Jordaan will co-drive with Mark Corbett in a Century Property Development Nissan Navara.
The last race win took Woolridge to fourth in the drivers' championship behind Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen, in another factory Nissan Navara, Skjoldhammer finished third in the co-driver's championship ahead of Briton Quin Evans.
Evans, who sat alongside Tollefsen for most of the season, missed the last two events after breaking his leg in a motorcycle accident. The Castrol Toyota Hilux pair of Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin, who on three occasions came close to winning races, finished fifth in the driver and co-driver championships respectively.
In the Super Production Class the top four among the drivers remained unchanged with Brandon Harcus (Ford Racing Ranger) replacing Cronje in the top five. Among the co-drivers Juan Mohr, who partnered Harcus, moved ahead of Evans and Birkin.
Third place at Carnival City was enough to give Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal Toyota Hilux D4x4) the Class D titles. Second were impressive newcomers Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock in a Toyota Hilux.
In a close family battle Ford Carnival City winners Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox (BB Auto Nissan Hardbody) took third place in the championship. They were just two points ahead of du Plessis's brothers Jurie and Andre.
Down in Class E a close finish saw Jack Peckham, in the factory Ford Ranger, edge out Jannie Visser (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) to win the drivers' championship. In the co-driver stakes it was the other way around.
Joks le Roux, who co-drove for Visser, took the title ahead of Lucio Santoro who sat alongside Peckham. The deciding factor was a set of circumstances brought about when Santoro fell ill halfway through the Amathole 500, and Peckham had to finish the event on his own.
Third were George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) with Brian Martin/Ockie Fourie fourth in the Castrol Toyota Hilux. The top five were rounded out by Thomas Rundle and Brian Roberts (Barden Tyre Service Nissan Hardbody) who edged out brothers Mark and Stuart Moffatt (Bosal Toyota Hilux) by a single point.
SPECIAL VEHICLE CATEGORY CHAMPIONSHIPS FINALISED
The recent Ford Carnival City 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, put the finishing touches to outstanding championship issues in the Special Vehicle category.
By far the most important and dramatic battle was for the overall and Class A championships. Going into the Ford Carnival City race it was a winners take all scenario between championship leaders Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, and Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the Motorite BAT.
Hutchison and Bergmann romped home for their third win in a row, and their fourth of the season, to clinch the title. The Harpers had an unhappy event to eventually come home fifth and finish in second place in the overall and class championship races.
Second place at Carnival City saw the impressive Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the Century Property Development BAT, sneak third place in the two championships. They finished just two points ahead of outgoing champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege in the second Motorite BAT.
Another steady drive saw former SA champion Terence Marsh and Pieter Groenewald (Regent Racing BAT) into fifth place in the two championships. Marsh and Groenewald were steadiness personified throughout the season and ended up with a 100 percent finish record.
Another Regent Racing BAT crew, the father and son pairing of Hendrik and Jan Kraaij totally dominated Class B. Five wins in a row saw them clinch the title with three races left, and the finished off with another win at Carnival City.
Behind the Kraaij's, however, there was a tremendous battle with only two points separating three crews. Bez Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn (Adenco BAT) eventually took second place ahead of Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in another Adenco BAT with both crews among the Ford Carnival City non finishers.
The only other Class B finishers at Carnival City were veteran former champion Giel Nel and Sandra Labuscagne in the ATE LUK Truggy Zarco. It was a result that saw Nel and Labuscagne, whose father Coetzee was a title contender in Class D in the Production Vehicle category, finish only one point shy of the Bezuidenhout brothers.
The Class S finale was something of an anti climax. With the title in the bag Richard Schilling, still troubled by a broken wrist, and Chris Davies, in the Aceco, decided to give the race a miss.
The final win went to Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco who came in ahead of Glenn Gibson and Mark Whitehurst in the Absolute Aceco. The Goslar/Carolin and Gibson/Whitehurst combinations also finished second and third in the championship.