Magalies 400: Series event summary

VOS WINS SA PRODUCTION CAR TITLE ON A COUNT OUT Magaliesberg, Saturday - In what is thought to be the closest title fight in the history of off road racing in this country, Duncan Vos clinched his second successive South African Production Car...

VOS WINS SA PRODUCTION CAR TITLE ON A COUNT OUT

Magaliesberg, Saturday - In what is thought to be the closest title fight in the history of off road racing in this country, Duncan Vos clinched his second successive South African Production Car championship here today on a count out from Sasol Nissan Navara team-mate Hannes Grobler.

Vos clinched the title when he and Ralph Pitchford won the RFS Magalies 400, the final race on the Absa Off Road Championship calendar, ahead of Castrol Toyota crew Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin. The veteran Grobler and Juan Mohr were third and finished just over two minutes behind the Toyota crew.

It was a result that saw Vos and Grobler finish level on points in both the overall championship and in the premier SP Class. In a count out the title went to Vos by virtue of four wins to three over the course of the season.

There was compensation for Grobler with his navigator, Juan Mohr, clinching the co-driver championship. Pitchford missed two events earlier in the season via overseas commitments and that hurt his championship hopes.

There was tragedy, however, for the factory Ford Racing Ranger pair of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. The former champions went into the event with a four point lead in both championships, but a broken rear axle weld saw them run into driveshaft problems and they nursed the Ford home in 19th place overall.

"It was very stressful," said Vos after provisional scoring gave him the championship honours. "We knew we had to finish ahead of Hannes, and winning the Friday prologue to start at the front of the Production Car field was crucial.

"It was a tricky route where to stray of the racing line was courting disaster."

A steady run saw Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in a privateer Castrol Toyota Hilux, come home fourth with George and Sharon Barkhuizen scoring their best result of the season with fifth in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux.

Brothers Henri and Maurice Zermatten, with the Class D championship already wrapped up, capped a fine season with another class win in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody. They had around 10 minutes to spare over outgoing driver's champion Cliff Weichelt and Nico Els in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux 4x4, with Chris du Plooy junior and Henk van Vuuren third in the RFS Toyota Hilux.

With the Class E title already in the bag veterans Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) were quite content to take things easy and strolled to fourth place. The win went to newcomers Diederik and Danie Hattingh in a Toyota Hilux who edged out Malcolm Kock and Wayne Brink, in another Toyota Hilux, and Thomas Rundle and Rob Howie in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Hardbody.

The Hattingh brothers stopped to help Class D crew Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) but still had 10 minutes in hand over Kock and Brink. Labuscagne and Gerber finished fourth in Class D.

SULLWALD'S WIN SA SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP AT RFS MAGALIES 400

Magaliesberg, Saturday - The father and son combination of Karl-Heinz and Quintin Sullwald clinched the South African Special Vehicle championship in dramatic fashion today when they won the RFS Magalies 400, the final event on the Absa Off Road series calendar, which ended at Tarlton International Raceway.

Provisional scoring saw the Sullwald's, in the Sullwald Racing BAT, clinch their second win of the season when they came home two and a half minutes ahead of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing BAT. Third were former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Porter, who were one of three crews who went into the race with a chance of winning the championship.

The other crew in with a chance of winning the title at the start of the day, Terence Marsh and Pieter Groenewald (Regent Racing BAT), dropped out of contention on the first of two 160 kilometre loops that made up the route. A fan belt problem put paid to their chances and they finally limped home in 15th place overall.

Fourth place went to Michael Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson, in a second Regent Racing BAT, with the pair around three minutes behind Variawa and Rousseau. Lesotho crew John Moore and Leander Pienaar, in the Free Spirit Chev, completed the top five For Sullwald senior winning the championship was an emotional moment. Sullwald first won the SA championship 12 years ago navigating for his brother Herman who was a casualty on this event.

"It is difficult to describe how I feel," said Sullwald. "This is the perfect end to a perfect season, and the fact that Quintin was sitting alongside me makes it all the more special."

The early running in the race was made by outgoing champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite BAT, and Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen in the Atlas Copco BAT. An unhappy season for the Motorite crew ended with another did not finish with gearbox problems, while Bertholdt and Vermeulen picked up three punctures in 30 kilometres on the second loop to fall back to eighth overall.

On a dramatic day championships were also settled in Classes B and P. Jan Kraaij and Tiddo Voogt, in the Keymax BAT, won Class B to give Voogt the co-driver championship.

Second in Class B was enough to give Bloemfontein driver Louw de Bruin (Ruwacon BAT) the driver's title. Rudi Britz, who sat alongside de Bruin, missed an event earlier in the season and that did his championship hopes no good at all.

A praiseworthy sixth overall gave brothers Etienne and Johan Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, the win in Class P and with it the driver and co-driver titles. Mechanical problems put paid to KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thompson and Gary Campbell (Zarco) and brothers David and Gary White (Ruwacon BAT) who were also in the frame where the Class P title was concerned.

-credit: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers John Moore , Ralph Pitchford , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst