Carnival: Midrand teams looking for triumphant finishes

Two Midrand teams, one of them a dominant force this season, will be looking for triumphant finishes to the Bankfin Off-Road Championship on the Carnival City Casino 400, on November 29 and 30. The factory Nissan team and the O'Hagan's/Kopanong...

Two Midrand teams, one of them a dominant force this season, will be looking for triumphant finishes to the Bankfin Off-Road Championship on the Carnival City Casino 400, on November 29 and 30.

The factory Nissan team and the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam, both of whom work out of Midrand based workshops, will both go into the event coming off victories on the recent Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400 in the Eastern Cape. Veterans Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke, in the Nissan Hardbody, won the Production Vehicle category and Class T, while John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt, in the Superteam's BMW Jimco, won the Special Vehicle category and Class A.

The Grobler/Leeke win gave the Nissan team their sixth overall win in seven outings this season. Grobler and Northcliffe based Leeke, both former South African rally and off-road champions, have scored three of those wins with the other three going to defending champions Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan.

The Tarka 400 win has given Grobler and Leeke a chance of winning the overall Production Vehicle drivers and co-drivers titles, with the championships currently led by Nissan Hardbody team-mates Duncan Vos and Mike Griffiths and Ford Racing Ranger crew Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. Vos and Griffiths, who have wrapped up the Class D title for Nissan, and the Ford crew are locked together on the same number of points.

"Whatever happens on the Carnival City Casino 400 it has been a terrific season for Nissan," said Leeke. "A fourth win would give Hannes and I a shot at becoming champions again after a break of around 20 years so that is something to aim for."

Weir-Smith and Minnitt are out of the running for the Special Vehicle championship and the Class A titles, but aim to finish the season on a high note. A win on the East Rand would also lift Weir-Smith into second place in the Class A drivers championship.

The Superteam will enter four cars in the Carnival City Casino 400 with Weir-Smith and Minnitt joined by Nic Goslar and Glen Steyn in the Class S Superteam Raceco, Sarel van der Merwe and Scott Abraham in the Superteam Jeep and father and son duo Rob and Gareth Wark in the class B Superteam Mighty Mag. It will be the legendary van der Merwe's final outing in a competition car before he hangs up his helmet.

"We picked up two class wins on the Tarka 400, and aim to go one better this time around," said Weir-Smith." The Superteam has not always performed to its potential this season, but here we have a chance to finish the year in a blaze of glory."

The Carnival City Casino 400 will be a spectator friendly event and a popular "bring 'n braai" area will again be in operation, providing a friendly atmosphere for friends and enthusiasts to get together in convivial surroundings.

Spectators at Carnival City will also have access to fast food outlets, a beer tent and toilet facilities. The section of the route that passes through the Carnival City complex has also been revamped and now includes additional high-speed ramps to increase the spectacle.

This will provide enthusiasts with spectacular views of the action. Spectators will be able to see the cars three times from one vantage point within the complex, and will also be within close proximity of spectator points within a few kilometers of Carnival City.

Two prime spectator points along the route will also offer fast food and beverage outlets and toilet facilities as well as a public address system. Route and spectator guides will be available to the public at the start and finish.

The weekend's action will get underway with the prologue, to determine grid positions, at 13:00 on Friday, November 29. This should provide plenty of action and will set the tone for what looks like developing into a highly dramatic weekend of world class off-road racing. The main event gets underway at 08:00 on Saturday, November 30.

-msa-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Sarel van der Merwe , Duncan Vos