Limpopo 400 final summary

VOS/PITCHFORD WIN FORD MOTORITE LIMPOPO 400 Polokwane, Saturday - Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford gave Nissan their third win in four outings this season when they won the Ford Motorite 400, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which...

VOS/PITCHFORD WIN FORD MOTORITE LIMPOPO 400

Polokwane, Saturday - Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford gave Nissan their third win in four outings this season when they won the Ford Motorite 400, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended at the Ysterberg Resort near here today.

Overall victory in the Production Vehicle category and the Super Production Class honours gave Vos, a former South African drivers champion, and Pitchford, the reigning co-drivers champion, their first success of the season in the Nissan Navara. It was, however, the factory Proudly South African Nissan team's third win this season with the Vos/Pitchford entry coming home seven minutes ahead of the factory Ford Racing Ranger of former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer.

"I needed that win -- big time," said a delighted Vos. "We haven't had much luck so far this season, but it all came together today.

"It was a really tough route and hard work, but the vehicle was great and we had a clean run."

For their part, Woolridge and Skjoldhammer were two and a half minutes ahead of Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr, in the Century Property Development Nissan Navara, after an impressive display first time out in the vehicle. The pair were in second place until five or six kilometers from the finish when they picked up a puncture and were passed by the Ford crew.

For the frontrunners matters were made a little easier with the demise of current championship leaders Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in a second Proudly South African Nissan Navara, and Castrol Toyota Hilux crews Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton and Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin. All three went out with front suspension maladies, and the three retirements took the pressure off Vos/Pitchford and Woolridge Skjoldhammer.

Fourth overall and Class E winners were KwaZulu-Natal crew Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable in the works diesel Ford Racing Ranger. It was an impressive performance by the pair who came in two minutes ahead of Class D winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, who completed the top five placings.

Second in Class D went to former Class E champions Jaap and Hugo de Bruyn in the Castrol Toyota Hilux. In a close finish the de Bruyns were only 55 seconds behind the reigning Class E champions, with Cliff and Louis Weichelt third in the Bosal Toyota Hilux.

The gap between Schroder/Huxtable and Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in a Toyota Hilux, in Class E was a sizeable five minutes. There was a whopping 30 minutes plus between Visser/le Roux and third placed Fabio Tafani and Mike Baron in the Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux.

Special Vehicle

An elusive victory finally came the way of Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein, in the Atlas Copco Porter, when they won the Special Vehicle category on the Ford Motorite 400, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended at the Ysterberg Resort near here today.

Bertholdt and Kirsten, having their first outing in the Porter, made sure of victory on the final 90 kilometre leg between the final designated service point and the finish. After leading for most of the race motorcycle legend Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege, in the Motorite BAT, picked up two punctures and were passed by Bertholdt/Kirstein with the finish almost in sight.

Bertholdt and Kirstein have threatened all season to come up with a win, but in the first three events of the season ran out of luck at one stage or another. On the recent Toyota 1 000 Desert Race it was their turn to lead nearly all the way only to lose out to Nick and Ryan Harper on the final leg of the Botswana event.

"A little luck finally came our way," said Bertholdt. "It was a tough day but a win, and first time out in the car, takes away all the aches and pains."

Bertholdt and Kirstein were nearly four minutes ahead of Cox and ter Stege with a second Motorite BAT crew, Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergman, a further 20 seconds back in third place. Current championship leaders Terence Marsh and Mike Whitehouse, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, were fourth and maintained their 100 percent finish record this season.

Colin Matthews and Jannie Erasmus, in a BAT, completed the top five after a steady run. On a tight and rocky route six of the top 10 were Special Vehicle entries.

Brothers Jan and Hendrik Kraaij, in the Keymax BAT, won Class B after a steady drive. For a team in their first year of national off road racing, it was an impressive performance with the pair finishing half an hour ahead of second placed Marius van Vuuren and Johan Coetzee in a Zarco.

Third in Class B were Swaziland crew John Thompson and Clinton McNamara in a Zarco Lite. In a tight battle they just held off Bes Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn in the Adenco BAT.

Botswana crew Gary Gillingham and Peter van Vuuren, in the Shell BMW Raceco, scored their first Class S victory with a gutsy performance. They were around 11 minutes ahead of reigning champions Richard Schilling and Chris Davies, in the Plastotech Aceco, after an adventurous drive.

Schilling and Davies were comfortably leading the class when they took the left front wheel off when they disappeared down a donga. They limped to the final service point and limped home after hasty repairs.

-msa

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ralph Pitchford , Mark Corbett , John Thompson , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst