TOUGH BATTLES IN ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP CATEGORIES Pre season predictions that most of this season's Absa Off Road Championship issues could go all the way to the wire could well prove to be on the money. Last year all but one of the ...
TOUGH BATTLES IN ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP CATEGORIES
Pre season predictions that most of this season's Absa Off Road Championship issues could go all the way to the wire could well prove to be on the money.
Last year all but one of the championship issues went all the way to the final event. After three events this season a similar pattern is starting to emerge and, with one or two exceptions, pretty much the same scenario is developing.
In the Special Vehicle category only eight points separate the top four drivers in the overall championship. Reigning champion Terence Marsh (Nashua Mobile BAT) has yet to register a win but three consistent finishes give him 41 points and place him ahead of Motorite BAT drivers Brandon Harcus (37) and Alfie Cox (34) and Nick Harper (33) who moves up the table via his recent Toyota 1000 Desert race win.
It is much the same scenario in the overall championship for Special Vehicle co-drivers. Here Mike Whitehouse (41), who partners Marsh, leads Hennie ter Stege (34) and Ryan Harper (33) with Achim Bergman and Colin Hunter sharing fourth place.
In the Special Vehicle class championship it is pretty much the same scenario. In Class A for drivers Marsh (38) leads Harcus (32), Cox and Harper who are tired on 29 points and Evan Hutchison, also in a Motorite BAT, with 28 points.
Among the co-drivers Whitehouse (38) has a slight cushion over Ryan Harper and ter Stege (29) with Bergman next up just a point in arrears. The slight gap between first and second among the co-drivers is the result of Harcus campaigning a singleseater.
Consistency has also seen Swaziland crew John Thompson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco VW) top the drivers and co-drivers lists in Class B where there have been three different winners so far this season. The Swazi crew have 39 points while Jan and Hendrik Kraaij (Keymax Property BAT) are only two points in arrears with Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) in third place a further nine points adrift.
Not far off the pace in fourth spot are Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen (Century Property Developments BAT), with Bez Bezuidenhout/Johan de Bruyn (Adenco Sandmaster), Giel Nel/Johan Smalberger (Bosal LUK Truggy) and Rudi and Pierre van Graan (Technochair Zarco) all tied for fifth place with the spread between first and fifth just 19 points. So far this season Bezuidenhout/de Bruyn, the van Graan brothers and Nel/Smalberger have all chalked up Class B wins.
In the drivers stakes in Class S it is very close. Nic Goslar (Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) currently leads reigning champion Richard Schilling (Plastotech Aceco) by just two Points and hot on their heels is Archie Rutherford in the Nashua Mobile BAT.
Among the co-drivers Chris Davies, who sits alongside Schilling, has an eight point lead over Craig Doubtfire who is paired with Rutherford. Next up the co-drivers are Richard Carolin and George Bowie although the Sugarbelt decision on Goslar could affect both of them.
On the Production Vehicle front former SA champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly South African Nissan Navara) have comfortable leads in both the overall championship and in the Super Production category. Grobler and Jordaan, with two wins to their credit this season, are just about the only two who find themselves in a comfort zone at this stage of the season.
Among the Production Vehicle drivers Grobler leads Ford Racing pair Neil Woolridge and Manfred Schroder with Chris Visser (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux) and Bevan Bertholdt (Castrol Toyota Hilux) fourth and fifth. Jordaan leads the co-drivers ahead of Kenny Skjoldhammer, Japie Badenhorst, Robin Houghton and Juan Mohr.
Grobler holds a seven point lead over Woolridge in the Super Production Class drivers championship with Toyota's Bertholdt, former champion Duncan Vos (Proudly SA Nissan Navara) and Rob Gurney (Ford Racing) completing the top five. The situation is mirrored among the co-drivers with Jordaan leading Skjoldhammer, Houghton, reigning champion Ralph Pitchford and Graham Stainbank.
Victory on the Toyota Desert Race lifted Visser/Badenhorst into a tie with Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) in Class D. Eight points behind them are Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal Toyota Hilux) with Jurie and Andre du Plessis and Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox, with both crews out in BB Auto Nissan Hardbodys, completing the top five.
Reigning Class D drivers champion Manfred Schroder is another in something of a comfort zone. The KwaZulu-Natal driver has a more than comfortable lead in Class E where he leads Brian Martin (Castrol Toyota Hilux) and Jaco Swanepoel (IDM Cement Toyota Hilux) by 23 points. Mark Moffat (Bosal Toyota Hilux) and Fabio Tafani (Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux complete the top five.
Ward Huxtable, who has partnered Schroder twice so far this season, leads the co-drivers ahead of Ockie Fourie and Grayham Bishop with Stuart Moffat and Mike Baron next up. Just 11 points separate the top five.
Namibian crew Jacu van Dyk and Adolf Botes (Toyota Land Cruiser) lead Class F which has been thin on entries this season. It is not known, however, how many more national events the pair will enter.
The perennial battle between Toyota and Nissan in the prestige SA Manufacturers Championship is once again also in full swing. With privateer teams coming to the party on the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race, the balance has swung back to Toyota (158) who now lead Nissan (143) and Ford (87) in the championship.
The next event is the Ford Motorite 400 in Limpopo on 4 / 5 August .