SPECIAL VEHICLES DOMINATE LESOTHO SUN 400 PROLOGUE Maseru, Friday - The Special Vehicle brigade and the Motorite BAT dominated today's prologue to determine start position for the Lesotho Sun 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, ...
SPECIAL VEHICLES DOMINATE LESOTHO SUN 400 PROLOGUE
Maseru, Friday - The Special Vehicle brigade and the Motorite BAT dominated today's prologue to determine start position for the Lesotho Sun 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, which starts here tomorrow.
Special Vehicles took eight of the top 10 positions on the prologue, and look set to dominate tomorrow's race. At the same time Motorite BAT crews filled the first three places with Brandon Harcus/Alec Salley taking pole position ahead of Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergman and Alfie Cox/Hennie Ter Stege.
Harcus and Salley were 23 seconds ahead of Hutchison and Bergman who, in turn, were just six seconds ahead of Cox and Ter Stege. Nardus Alberts and Colin Hunter, in the Wrapsa BAT were fourth fastest with recent Ford Motorite Limpopo 400 winners Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein fifth in the Atlas Copco Porter.
"We had a good run but finished on seven cylinders when a plug lead came loose," said Harcus. "It is going to be a hard and tough race, and I don't think there is going to be much in it at the finish.
"This event is always tough on the cars and it is going to be a case of survival of the fittest."
Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen, in the Century Property Development BAT were quickest in Class B -- by just one second. Hot on their heels were Class B championship leaders Jan and Hendrik Kraaij, in the Keymax BAT, with Bes Bezuidenhout and Johan de Bruyn third in the Adenco BAT.
Nashua Mobile Racing Raceco pair Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire led the Class S qualifiers. They were 38 seconds ahead of reigning champions and current class leaders Richard Schilling and Chris Davies in the Plastotech Aceco.
Ford Motorite Limpopo 400 winners Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford, in the Proudly South African Nissan Navara, were the first Production Vehicle in seventh place overall. They were followed by Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, in ninth overall and Mark/Corbett/Juan Mohr in the Century Property Development Nissan Navara who were 11th overall.
Ford Racing pair Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer were only nine seconds behind in fourth place. A cautious Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, who are among the pre-race favourites in another factory Proudly SA Nissan Navara, were fifth in the Production vehicle category but a lowly 21st overall.
"I think we were perhaps a little over cautious today," said Grobler, "but a midfield start is better than breaking the vehicle and not starting at all.
"This is the one event on the calendar where the Special Vehicles have a big advantage over the Production Vehicles in terms of suspension set-up. This race also always has a high attrition rate and the main aim tomorrow will be to finish."
Current Class D championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, were the quickest in Class D. They were followed by Cliff and Louis Weichelt, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux, with Jurie and Andre du Plessis third in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody.
There was a turn up for the books in Class E where Mark and Stuart Moffat (Bosal Toyota Hilux), Thomas Rundle/Brian Roberts (Barden Tyre Service Nissan) and Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (Toyota Hilux), all came in ahead of championship leaders Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable in the Ford Racing Ranger. Like Grobler and Jordaan the Ford crew were perhaps a little over cautious, and will be looking to make rapid progress through the field tomorrow.
Prominent crews to run into problems included Toyota 1000 Desert Race winners Nick and Ryan Harper (BAT), Rob and Gareth Wark in the Superpave Raceco and Bevan Bertholdt and Ockie Fourie in the Castrol Toyota Hilux. Mechanical problems hampered the Harpers and Warks while Bertholdt and Fourie hit a rock and damaged the front suspension.
All three crews hope to make it to the start in Matsieng tomorrow. The event will be run over three 100 kilometre loops with a designated service point and the finish also located at Matsieng.