TIGHT FINISHES IN NISSAN HLUHLUWE 400 PROLOGUE There were some tight finishes today on the prologue for tomorrow's Nissan Hluhluwe 400, and round two of the Absa Off Road Championship looks like developing into something of a classic. Only one...
TIGHT FINISHES IN NISSAN HLUHLUWE 400 PROLOGUE
There were some tight finishes today on the prologue for tomorrow's Nissan Hluhluwe 400, and round two of the Absa Off Road Championship looks like developing into something of a classic.
Only one second separated the two fastest cars in the Production Vehicle category, and there was a gap of only 11 seconds between the first two cars in the Special Vehicle category. With rain threatening overnight and tomorrow, wet conditions could make for an even more interesting race.
Fastest of the Production Vehicle and Super Production Class crews were reigning South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Nissan Navara) who won the opening round of the series. The veteran Nissan crew, however, were just one second ahead of Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton, with local hero Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the factory Ford Racing Ranger, completing the top three.
Missing from the prologue were the other Castrol Toyota factory crew of Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin. Their new SP Class vehicle could not be finished in time for the prologue, and the pair will start from the back of the field.
Brothers Henri and Maurice Zermatten, in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody, led home the Class D brigade. Not far behind them were Jurie and Andre du Plessis, in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody, and Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody.
The Roost Racing Toyota Hilux, crewed by Hein Moolman and Ian Palmer, set the pace in Class E. They were followed by two other Toyota crews in George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) and Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux.
Motorite BAT team-mates Alfie Cox/Hennie ter Steege and Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergman were fastest of the Special Vehicle crews. Cox and ter Steege are the reigning SA champions while Hutchison and Bergman won the opening round of the championship.
The two Motorite crews were followed home by Nick and Ryan Harper in the new Atlas Copco BAT. Fourth and fifth were former SA champion Shameer Variawa/Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) and Nardus Albert and Colin Hunter in the Wrapsa BAT.
Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, were quickest of the Class B brigade. They narrowly held off round one winners Hendrik and Jan Kraaij in the Keymax BAT.
Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) set the pace in Class S. They led home arch rivals Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin, in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, with a good battle between the two crews on the cards.
The Hluhluwe event is breaking new ground in the series with the route for the prologue coming in for high praise from competitors. This augurs well for the race proper with the tough route -- which offers a variety of terrain and conditions -- likely to sort the men from the boys.
The Nissan Hluhluwe 400 Expo, held in Empangeni on Thursday evening, also drew high praise from competitors. The Expo drew a huge response from local off road enthusiasts who were given the opportunity to meet the crews and technical personnel.
The Nissan Hluhluwe 400 starts at the Hluhluwe airfield at 08h00 tomorrow. The designated service point is also at the airfield with the leading car expected at the finish at around 2 pm.