Free State: Series prologue summary

Narrow Production Vehicle prologue win for Team Castrol Toyota crew Bloemfontein, Friday - Team Castrol Toyota crew Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton snatched the narrowest of Production Vehicle wins on today's Donaldson Prologue to determine ...

Narrow Production Vehicle prologue win for Team Castrol Toyota crew

Bloemfontein, Friday - Team Castrol Toyota crew Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton snatched the narrowest of Production Vehicle wins on today's Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions for the Human Auto 400 tomorrow.

The penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship sees national motor racing return to the Free State, with Taylor and Houghton finishing just one second ahead of the Barden Nissan Navara crewed by Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr in provisional results. Third were Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1 000 Desert Race winners Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege, in the RFS BMW M3, with only 14 seconds covering the first three cars.

The Rustenburg father and son pairing of Willem and Dana Vos (Vossies Toyota Hilux) were a surprise fourth, with championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) rounding out the top five. Visser and Badenhorst lead the second factory Team Castrol Toyota crew of Duncan Vos and Rob Howie by 11 points, with Grobler and ter Stege a further point adrift with tomorrow's race crucial to all three crews.

Vos and Howie were the big losers today with a persistent misfire dropping them down to eighth place, with the pair a minute and 13 seconds behind their team-mates. The Toyota crew came in behind the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux of Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen, and the Team Ford Ranger TDCi of former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer.

"It was a difficult prologue with fast and slow sections and nothing in between," said Houghton. "You were either in first gear or sixth gear." "Finding the route in flat terrain with high grass was also a problem."

There was early drama in Class D when championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) were reclassified and shifted into the premier SP Class. The quickest time then went to Louis Weichelt and Johann Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) who have had a topsy turvy time in what is a new vehicle.

Weichelt and Smalberger came in a minute ahead of Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race winners Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), who are only three points off the pace in the Class D championship. Third quickest were Northern regions championship regulars Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover.

There was also drama in Class E where championship leaders Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable crashed out in the Team Ford Ranger. The KwaZulu-Natal crew had strayed off the route when they hit a ditch with teenager Woolridge picking up a back injury that is likely to keep him out of tomorrow's race.

The 4x4 Mega World crew of Hein Moolman and JD Wolfaardt led home the Class E contingent with Malcolm Kock/Johan Burger (Toyota Hilux), Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) and Gerald le Roux/Willem Pretorius (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) closely bunched. Labuschagne and Erasmus need a good result to keep alive their championship hopes.

The race start at 08:30 tomorrow at the Windmill Casino complex in Bloemfontein. Entry to the start/finish, the designated service point and spectator areas along the route is free of charge.

Special Vehicle prologue drama at Human Auto 400

Bloemfontein, Friday - There was plenty of drama today after the Special Vehicle prologue for the Human Auto 400 tomorrow.

Provisional results saw the Century Racing pair of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith snatch a five second victory ahead of the lab 88 BAT crew of Bevan Bertholdt and Danie Stassen, on the Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for tomorrow's race. Matthews and Smith, regarded as prologue specialists, were then penalised 15 minutes by race officials for deviating from the route.

The penalty dropped Matthews and Smith to 27th in the Special Vehicle category and 51st on the road. It effectively killed off any hopes the Century Racing crew had of scoring a maiden national series win, and put Bertholdt and Stassen in pole position.

The race is the penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, and could play a major role in deciding this year's championship. Only 24 points separate the first four teams in the championship race with current leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Team Total BAT), holding a precarious 12 point lead over 2007 champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT.

A disappointing prologue saw Variawa and Rousseau, who reported a clean run, finish down in eighth place in provisional results. It left them two minutes off the pace set by the experienced Bertholdt and Stassen.

The penalty also promoted Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR), who are fourth in the championship, into second place with another impressive performance taking Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer into third in the Century Racing CR1. Corbett and Balzer were also the first of the Class P contingent.

The top five were rounded out by Kallie and Quintin Sullwald with just one minute and 47 seconds separating the first five cars, and two minutes and 11 seconds separating the top 10. Other leading crews in the top 10 include reigning drivers champion Evan Hutchison and off road motorcycle star Darryl Curtis (Motorite Revo1 4x4), Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT) and Class P championship leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw in the Atlas Copco BAT.

Corbett and Balzer completely dominated the Class P proceedings. The Century Racing crew were a whopping one minute and eight seconds ahead of van Staden and Rossouw who have a tight hold on the Class P championship.

Third were Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara in a Zarco. They were just over two minutes behind Corbett/Balzer and have a tough job ahead of them tomorrow.

The Class B honours went to veteran Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra in the Raysonics Zarco. The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race winners were nearly a minute ahead of another veteran, Cape Town-based Bes Bezuidenhout, and daughter-in-law Lindie in the Adenco BAT.

The race start at 08:30 tomorrow at the Windmill Casino complex in Bloemfontein. Entry to the start/finish, the designated service point at the Windmill complex and spectator areas along the route is free of charge.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Mark Corbett , Darryl Curtis , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst