Limpopo 400 preview

NISSAN PAIR THE FAVOURITES ON FORD MOTORITE 400 The Ford Motorite 400 in Limpopo on August 4 and 5 looks to be another case of everyone else chasing a Nissan as the Absa Off Road Championship reaches the halfway mark. After their command ...

NISSAN PAIR THE FAVOURITES ON FORD MOTORITE 400

The Ford Motorite 400 in Limpopo on August 4 and 5 looks to be another case of everyone else chasing a Nissan as the Absa Off Road Championship reaches the halfway mark.

After their command performance at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, championship leaders Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan will start as outright favourites for overall victory in the Production Vehicle category and the Super Production Class honours. The Proudly South African Nissan Navara pair were in devastating form in Botswana, and a repeat performance could see them turn the Limpopo outing into a no contest situation.

Grobler and Jordaan have a comfortable 23 point lead at the top of the championship and back-up will come in the form of team-mates Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford in a second Navara. The pair has the pace to match Grobler and Jordaan but have not been able to find any consistency this season.

A third Nissan Navara will be in the hands of Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr with the car running under the Century Property Development banner. The pair were winners in the Special Vehicle category but could find it hard going trying to eke out wins over the factory teams.

As usual the main opposition to the Nissan teams will come from Ford and Toyota factory entries. For the Ford teams, Neil Woolridge/Kenny Skjoldhammer and Rob Gurney/Baphumze Rubuluza, with both crews out in factory Ford Rangers, there will be the added incentive of aiming for a win on a Ford sponsored event.

Former champions Woolridge and Skjoldhammer would look to be the dangermen. The pair have a win to their credit this season, and if they don't run into reliability problems could push the Nissan teams all the way.

The Castrol Toyota Hilux challenge will again be in the hands of Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin and Bevan Bertholdt/Robin Houghton, and they will be desperate for good performances from both crews. By Toyota's high standards both crews have under performed this season, albeit in vehicles still under development, and the Limpopo event offers an opportunity to get the Toyota season back on track.

Another Toyota versus Nissan battle looms in Class D. Toyota won the Desert Race skirmish handsomely with superb performances from reigning Class E champion Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux) and former Class E champions Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Castrol Toyota Hilux.

Toyota also have a powerful entry in the Bosal Toyota Hilux in the hands of Cliff and Louis Weichelt. The pair have also won this season and a fascinating battle could develop among the Toyota crews.

Nissan crews have yet to win in Class D this season, but consistency has kept Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber, in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody, in the title hunt. They should be there or thereabouts when it comes to dishing out podium finishes, and local crews Jurie and Andre du Plessis (BB Auto Nissan Hardbody) and Arnold du Plessis/ Johan Knox, in another BB Auto entry, will be desperately keen to do well in their own backyard.

A Misubishi Pajero crew, however, have the potential to inflict some damage on the Toyota and Nissan challenges. Kobus van Tonder and Rian Guelpa have picked up some encouraging results, and will keep the Toyota and Nissan crews honest.

Ford will be looking to reigning Class D drivers champion Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable to give them a Class E win. The pair are the form team and will fancy their chances in the diesel powered Ford Ranger.

After a disappointing Toyota 1000 Desert Race the Castrol Toyota factory pairing of Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie will be looking to bounce back. In his first full season of off road Martin is on a learning curve, but the pair already have a win under their belts this season.

A horde of other Toyota entries will also be looking for good results. George and Sharon Barkhuizen will again be paired in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, Pieter Ruthven/Dewaal Boshoff will be out in another Ruwacon entry and former track racers Fabio Tafani and Jaco Swanepoel will continue their off road love affair.

Tafani will be paired with Mike Baron in the Club Refrigeration Toyota Hilux and Swanepoel will again link up with Grayham Bishop in the IDM Cement Toyota Hilux. Both crews have had their moments this season and will feel they are starting to come to grips with off road.

For the Toyota and Nissan crews there is the added incentive of the prestige South African Manufacturers Championship. Toyota currently have their noses in front in the traditional battle, and the Ford Motorite will be another important battle for both manufacturers.

-msa-

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