4X4 MEGA WORLD 400 VICTORY FOR TEAM CASTROL TOYOTA Team Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Duncan Vos and Rob Howie gave the squad a much needed boost when they romped to victory in the Production Vehicle category on the 4x4 Mega World 400, round five of...
4X4 MEGA WORLD 400 VICTORY FOR TEAM CASTROL TOYOTA
Team Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Duncan Vos and Rob Howie gave the squad a much needed boost when they romped to victory in the Production Vehicle category on the 4x4 Mega World 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Carnival City today.
It was the factory team's first victory under new team principle Glyn Hall and Toyota's third success of the season with privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst twice winning earlier in the season. Visser and Badenhorst, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, followed Vos and Howie across the line to consolidate their position at the top of the championship table.
The final podium place went to veteran former South African champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS BMW. It was only the third outing for the diesel BMW which is still very much in the development stage.
"That was hard work," said Vos who is the reigning South African drivers' champion. "The route turned into a co-driver's nightmare but Rob did a fantastic job, and this was a win the team needed.
"With so many hidden dangers and lots of dust it was difficult to find a rhythm. A persistent misfire did not help but we stuck to our guns and it worked out okay."
Visser and Badenhorst reported a clean run with Grobler and ter Stege delighted with the diesel BMWs maiden podium finish. Fourth place went to the second Team Castrol Toyota Hilux of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton with their day ruined by punctures and an overheating problem.
With Vos/Howie, Visser/Badenhorst and Grobler/ter Stege all frontrunners in the overall and premier SP Class championships, title races are now delicately poised. With three events remaining a race to the wire looks to be on the cards.
An encouraging performance gave Free State crew George Barkhuizen and David van Wyck their second top five finish of the season in the AIM Toyota Hilux, with Sun City winners Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin sixth in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Pretoria youngsters Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Jansen van Vuuren brought the RFS Toyota Hilux home seventh with Free State crew Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) having a good day to complete the top eight.
It wasn't such a good day for former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the Team Ford Ranger. A gearbox problem on the prologue saw them start from the back of the field, and they were then penalised 60 minutes for deviating from the route - which dropped them to 16th overall and 12th in class and hurt their championship hopes.
Another notable retirement saw Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, third on the Sun City 400, call it a day on the second of the two 175 kilometre loops that made up the race. The Barden Tyres Nissan Navara picked up overheating problems.
What also looked like a good day for Louis Weichelt and Johan Smalberger, in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser, turned sour. They were credited with the Class D win first time out in a new car, but were later excluded from the results for a technical infringement.
With the retirements of championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux), and the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer there were no finishers in Class D.
There was, however, plenty of compensation for the Mega World team. Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus and Hein Moolman/JD Wolfaardt, both out in 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux entries, were first and second in Class E.
Teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger), who led the championship going into this weekend's event, were third. The title race is now delicately poised with young Woolridge facing a baptism of fire on his first Toyota Desert 1000 Race in Botswana next month.
SULLWALD FAMILY AFFAIR ON 4X4 MEGA WORLD 400
Two Sullwald teams today turned the Special Vehicle category on the 4x4 Mega World 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, into a family affair.
Herman and Wichard Sullwald, in the Sullwald Racing SVR, crossed the finish line seconds ahead of Kallie and Quintin, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, to give the father and son teams a unique double. Brothers Herman and Kallie won the South African championship racing together in the mid 90s, Kallie and Quintin won the championship in 2008 and today's result saw Wichard score his first ever national victory.
Only 13 seconds separated the two teams at the finish with Herman and Wichard starting fourth in Special Vehicle category and Kallie and Quintin seventh after the Donaldson Prologue on Friday to determine grid positions. Herman and Wichard lost time on the prologue when they stopped to help championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau who were stuck in a donga in the Total Porter.
Ironically, Variawa built the SVR being campaigned this season by the Sullwald's. A persistent misfire also hampered the winners with an errant plug lead at the root of the problem.
"The plug lead came loose just before the end of the first loop, and the misfire reappeared about 70 kilometres from the finish," said Herman. "We thought Kallie and Quintin would catch us, but there was a lot of dust out there and we were maintaining a steady pace."
For Kallie and Quintin it was another good result after their win on the Sun City 400. "It was a great day for family," said Kallie.
"Second does our championship hopes no harm so we are happy."
A third father and son team, Nardus and Louis Alberts, crossed the line third in the Wrapsa BAT with the pair bouncing back after a disastrous Sun City 400 when a driveshaft broke on the start line and the pair covered all of five metres. But more disaster awaited the pair and they were penalised 30 minutes for deviating from the route.
That dropped them to 10th overall and seventh in Class A with Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee elevated to third for their first podium finish in the Cobalt Racing Porter. Steady drives took Nick Harper/Kevin Hume (Atlas Copco BAT) and Brett and Steve Parker (Jimco) into fifth and sixth. Three Class P crews in Archie Rutherford and Jacque le Roux (Regent Racing Jimco), Johan van Staden/James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) and Etienne Lourens and Philip Herselman, in a second Atlas Copco BAT, completed the top eight.
The biggest losers on the day were Variawa and Rousseau and prologue winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in their first outing in the Century Racing CR3. A gearbox problem handed Variawa/Rousseau their second non finish of the season, with the reliability bogey again sidelining Matthews and Smith who retired early in the race with fuel pressure problems.
Rutherford and le Roux, making his national debut, won an interesting Class P tussle by 39 seconds from championship leaders van Staden/Rossouw. It was a great comeback by the Atlas Copco pair who started 28th among the Special Vehicles after a disappointing prologue.
There was also an impressive off road debut by former rally champion Lourens. He was walking around with a huge grin after he and Philip Herselman finished less than two minutes off the pace.
Veteran Bez Bezuidenhout and daughter-in-law Lindie (Adenco BAT) scored their second successive win to move into the lead in the Class B championship. The pair finished half an hour ahead of brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete, in a Zarco, and took control when Simon Beckett and Steve Harris (Century Racing BAT) retired.