GROBLER AND MARSH LEAD ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP AT HALFWAY STAGE With the 2005 Absa Off Road Championship at the halfway stage after four of the eight events have been completed, reigning champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly...
GROBLER AND MARSH LEAD ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP AT HALFWAY STAGE
With the 2005 Absa Off Road Championship at the halfway stage after four of the eight events have been completed, reigning champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody) lead the production vehicle category while Terence Marsh and Michael Whitehouse head the special vehicle points table.
Four points scoring finishes including a win in the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape in April see Grobler and Jordaan enjoying a 16-point advantage over team-mates Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford.
Cox has revelled in his move from class D, which he and Pitchford won last year in a Nissan Hardbody, to the modified top class where the extra power and brute strength of the Proudly South African Hardbody has been very much to his liking. Wins in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in June and the Sun City 400 in July have been balanced with non-finishes in the other two rounds and see him and Pitchford on 50 points to Grobler and Jordaan's 66 points.
Winners of the opening round of the season, the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in March, were Ford Racing's Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the now retired modified V6 Ranger. They have not competed since, while Ford has been building its new Ranger for the new Super Production class due to be introduced from the Limpopo round in Polokwane in September.
Gavin Cronje and Robin Houghton have done well to the halfway point, accumulating 44 points in their Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i and placing third overall.
First in class D and fourth overall are Henri Zermatten and Bodo Schwegler (Master Craft/Ryobi Mitsubishi Pajero) with 41 points. Manfred Schroder and Alec Harris (Ford Racing Ranger) are third in class D and joint fifth overall with 34 points, together with Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i).
Zane Pearce is the leader in class E in his Castrol Toyota Hilux and is an excellent seventh overall after scoring points in all four rounds. Second in class E and 11th overall are reigning champions Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Castrol Toyota Hilux.
Third in class E and 12th overall, just two points behind the De Bruyn's, are Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux).
Leading the special vehicle category overall as well as class A are Terence Marsh and Michael Whitehouse (Nashua Mobile BAT) after a steady start to the season which has seen them score points in all four races and record their first-ever win in the Western Cape event. They have 54 points.
Second with 40 points after competing in only two events - and winning their second successive Toyota 1000 Desert Race in the Total Jimco - are Botswana's Atang Makgekgenene and South African Buks Carolin.
Will Battershill and Reg Sutton, in the ex Marsh Jimco, are third with 31 points.
Diamond diggers Gerhard du Plessis and Ferdie Seegers (Jimco) were the fourth different winners in class A this season when they took the honours in the Sun City 400, their first event of the season. The 25 points they earned put them straight into eighth overall and sixth in class A.
Heading class B by a single point are reigning champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (JRE). They have 28 points and are fourth overall. Second in class B and fifth overall are newcomers to class B, Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod in the Motorite BAT-Nissan. An excellent win in their very first event, the season-opening Nissan Sugarbelt 400, and a second win in the Sun City 400 have put them right in contention for a title win in their first season together.
Third in class B and joint 9th overall are John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Mormond Zarco) with 22 points.
Class S leaders and joint 14th overall are the veteran pairing of former overall special vehicle champion Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) with 18 points. Second are Archie Rutherford and Vincent Horn (Sandmaster) with six points. Third is Thierry Hecq (Raceco).
Toyota leads the production vehicle manufacturers' championship with 216 points from Nissan (150), Ford (77), Mitsubishi (51), Land Rover (21) and Chevrolet (3).