Magalies 400: Series Prologue summary

VOS/PITCHFORD DOMINATE PRODUCTION CAR PROLOGUE Tarlton, Friday -- South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford dominated the Production Car prologue for the RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton...

VOS/PITCHFORD DOMINATE PRODUCTION CAR PROLOGUE

Tarlton, Friday -- South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford dominated the Production Car prologue for the RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway today.

The prologue determines start positions for tomorrow's race with Vos and Pitchford, in the Donaldson Nissan Navara, cruising to a 23 second advantage in provisional results on the fast and tricky 70 kilometre prologue. It was a result that gives the pair, in search of the fifth victory of the season, an early psychological advantage.

Vos and Pitchford had a clear run to also head up the premier SP Class. Behind them, however, it was close with just 29 seconds separating the next four cars.

Second fastest were Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the RFS Toyota Hilux. Hot on their heels were Highveld 400 winners Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux and Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin in the first on the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries.

Punctures, mechanical niggles and wrong slots delayed other fancied crews, among them Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux), who will start sixth. Other victims were Hannes Grobler/Juan Mohr (Donaldson Nissan Navara), Ivar Tollefsen/Quin Evans (Donaldson Nissan Navara) and the turbo diesel Ford Racing Ranger of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer.

Tomorrow's race is Grobler's last outing in a Nissan after a 33 year association with the Rosslyn based company.

There was drama in Class D when championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux D4D) failed to finish the prologue. That relegates them to the mass start at the back of the grid and is a massive blow for van Breda who is fighting for the driver title with reigning champion Cliff Weichelt in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D.

Weichelt, who trails van Breda by eight points in the championship, and Johann Smalberger set the fastest time followed by Johan and Werner Horn in the Malelane Toyota Land cruiser. Third fastest went to Heine Strumpher and Henri Hugo in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux.

Track start Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie set the fastest time in Class E with Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus not far behind in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux. Former champion Manfred Schroder and Gavan Gray were third in their first outing this season in the factory Ford Ranger.

Reigning champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, who only have to finish to ensure back to back titles, were fourth.

The race starts tomorrow at 08h00 with the start/finish and designated service area all at Tarlton International Raceway just outside Krugersdorp. There are a number of excellent spectator areas within easy reach of Tarlton with access to these areas free of charge.

HUTCHISON/BERGMANN IN EARLY COMMAND OF RFS MAGALIESBERG 400

Tarlton, Friday -- South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann took early charge today of the RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway.

Hutchison and Bergmann, in the 4x4 Motorite Revo1, romped to victory in the Special Vehicle prologue that determined start positions for tomorrow's race. Provisional results saw the champions cruise home just over a minute ahead of Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer in the futuristic Century racing CR2.

Hutchison, who recently also clinched the Class A7 national rally championship, and Bergmann crashed out of this event last year. "That was a bit embarrassing, and we want to make amends this year and win," said Hutchison.

Corbett and Balzer were 19 seconds clear of the father and son team of Nick and Ryan Harper in the Atlas Copco BAT. They were under huge pressure, however, from Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau in the Total Motorsport Porter with just two seconds separating the two cars.

Veterans Nardus Alberts and Geoff Minnitt, winners of the recent Toyota Dealer 400 in the Wrapsa BAT, completed the top five.

Most of the drama was reserved for Class P where only one point separates reigning champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) and David and Gary White in the Ruwacon BAT. Also in the picture in the driver championship is Don Thompson (Zarco) who trails Johan Bezuidenhout and David White by a further five points.

The White's however, suffered a major setback when they failed to finish the prologue. That relegates them to the back of the grid and a place in tomorrow's mass start -- and leaves them with a mountain to climb.

The fastest time in Class P went to Hendrik and Andries Voogt in the Keymax BAT who edged out the Bezuidenhout's. Thompson and Hjalmar van Gessellen were third with Class P poised to provide more drama in the race.

Class B champions Derrick du Toit and Ian Pienaar led the Class B brigade in the Orange Tree BAT. The Cape pair came in ahead of Simon Beckett and Tim Curtis in the Century Racing BAT with the Makenete brothers Keith and Andrew, who are second in the championship, completing the top three in the Zarco.

Tomorrow's race starts at 08h00 with the start/finish and designated service area all at Tarlton. The event is user friendly with a number of spectator points within easy reach of the Tarlton complex, and access to these areas is free.

-credit: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers David White , Ralph Pitchford , Quin Evans , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst , Leeroy Poulter