Championship update 2006-09-06

TOUGH PRODUCTION VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES IN ABSA SERIES Some highly interesting battles have emerged in the various Production Vehicle categories after five rounds of this year's Absa Off Road Championship. Nowhere is the situation...

TOUGH PRODUCTION VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES IN ABSA SERIES

Some highly interesting battles have emerged in the various Production Vehicle categories after five rounds of this year's Absa Off Road Championship.

Nowhere is the situation better illustrated than in the overall and Super Production Class championships. The off-road championship scoring system sees to it that recent Lesotho Sun 400 winners Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in the Proudly South African Nissan Navara, lead the overall championship while the works Ford Racing Ranger pairing of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer lead the SP Class standings.

In both cases, however, the Nissan crew has a slight advantage. Woolridge and Skjoldhammer have scored in every round of the championship so far, and must drop at least one score at the end of the season.

As matters stand that is the points they earned on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race. In the overall championship Grobler/Jordaan have a 14 point lead over their Ford rivals, while in the SP Class standings Woolridge and Skjoldhammer lead by just two points.

Slowed by suspension and steering problems in the latter part of the Lesotho Sun 400, the Ford crew decided to settle for third place behind Grobler/Jordaan and the Castrol Toyota Hilux 4.0 pair of Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin. The gloves will be off, however, in the final three rounds and some superb racing lies in store.

In the overall standings another factory Nissan crew, Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford, lie in third place with Class D leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, getting in among the big guns. The Toyota crew are in fourth place after a third successive win on the Lesotho Sun 400.

It is no surprise that Visser and Badenhorst have a commanding lead in Class D. Closest challengers Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) and Cliff and Louis Weichelt, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux, both failed to see out the distance in Lesotho.

This has left Visser and Badenhorst with a 28 point lead over the Labuschagne/Gerber combination. The Toyota crew have now won four times this season with the other victory going to the Weichelt's.

Despite a miserable Lesotho Sun 400 which finally saw the pair time barred Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) stay in charge of proceedings in Class E. A win in Lesotho, however, has lifted brothers Mark and Stuart Moffat (Bosal Toyota Hilux) into second place behind the factory Ford crew.

Castrol Toyota Hilux factory driver Brian Martin moves into third place among the drivers, with Jannie Visser Toyota Hilux in fourth place. Ockie Fourie, who normally sits alongside Martin, was pressed into SP Class duty in Lesotho and Joks le Roux, co-driving for Visser, moves into third place in the co-driver standings.

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MOTORITE CREWS DOMINATE ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Motorite BAT crews dominate the Special Vehicle overall and Class A championships after five rounds of the Absa Off Road Championship.

With three rounds left in the series Motorite BAT drivers occupy the first three positions in the overall and Class A championships. Motorcycle legend Alfie Cox, after winning the recent Lesotho Sun 400 with Hennie Ter Stege, now has a commanding lead over team-mates Evan Hutchison and Brandon Harcus.

All three drivers have won this season and look set to fight it out for the championship over the rest of the season -- with the odds tilted in Cox's favour. Reigning champion Terence Marsh, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, is fourth among the drivers with another BAT driver, Toyota 1000 Desert Race winner Nick Harper, in fifth place.

Among the co-drivers Hennie Ter Stege leads Achim Bergmann, who sits alongside Hutchison, and reigning champion Mike Whitehouse who is again paired with Marsh. Harcus has competed on three events in a singleseater, and in two others has had Marcelle Trethewey and Alec Salley co-driving and this has elevated Whitehouse and Ryan Harper into third and fourth.

"We couldn't wish for a better situation," said Hutchison after the Motorite team took three of the four top places on the Lesotho Sun 400. "There are no team orders so the last three events are going to be very interesting."

Despite a troubled event the father and son combination of Jan and Hendrik Kraaij, in the Keymax BAT, stay at the top of the Class B drivers and co-drivers championships. Swaziland crew John Thompson and Clinton McNamara, among the non finishers in the Zarco Lite in Lesotho, now lead Bez Bezuidenhout and Johan de Bruyn (Adenco BAT) by just four points.

Lesotho Sun 400 winners Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen (Century Property Development BAT) are a further four points in arrears with the class heading towards an interesting finish. Although the Kraaij's appear to have a comfortable lead, they still have to drop one event -- and that alters the overall picture somewhat.

The Lesotho Sun saw a change at the top of the driver's championship in Class S. Nic Goslar and Gerhard Niemandt, standing in for Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, were the only finishers, and this moved Goslar nine points ahead of reigning champion Richard Schilling in the Plastotech Aceco.

There is no change in the co-drivers standings. Here reigning champion Chris Davies, who points Schilling in the right direction, leads Craig Doubtfire, who sits alongside Archie Rutherford in the Nashua Mobile Raceco.

Further down the list Peter Van Vuuren and Carolin share third place with Van Vuuren and driver Garry Gillingham (Shell Raceco) also among the crews who did not see out the distance in Lesotho.

The Schilling/Davies and Rutherford/Doubtfire combinations were also among those who did not finish the Lesotho event.

-credit: msa

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ralph Pitchford , John Thompson , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst