Mpumalanga 400 Prologue summary

BERTHOLDT/KIRSTEIN WIN TOYOTA DEALER 400 PROLOGUE Atlas Copco pair Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein upstaged the championship leading Motorite BAT team to win today's prologue for the Toyota Dealer 400, the penultimate round of the Absa Off...

BERTHOLDT/KIRSTEIN WIN TOYOTA DEALER 400 PROLOGUE

Atlas Copco pair Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein upstaged the championship leading Motorite BAT team to win today's prologue for the Toyota Dealer 400, the penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the Lydenburg area tomorrow.

Bertholdt and Kirstein (Atlas Copco Porter), who earlier in the season won the Ford Motorite 400, came in ahead of Motorite BAT crews Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergmann and overall Special Vehicle championship and Class A leaders Alfie Cox and Hennie Ter Stege. Bertholdt and Kirsten finished the 30 kilometre prologue -- run to determine start positions for the race proper tomorrow - 14 seconds ahead of Hutchison and Bergmann with Cox/Ter Stege a further 11 seconds adrift.

All three crews reported troublefree runs and the scene is set for a terrific battle up front in what is the penultimate race of the season. Cox leads the drivers championship ahead of another Motorite BAT entrant, Brandon Harcus, who ran into a gearbox problem in today's prologue and who will start from the back of the field tomorrow.

"We had a good run with the road book and the route marking earning top marks," said Hutchison. "From a team point of view Brandon's problem was unfortunate, but we are looking forward to what should be a good race."

Fourth overall in the Special vehicle category were Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis in a privately entered Jimco. They edged out Colin Matthews and Bodo Bertholdt, father of Gary, by just 10 seconds.

The first of the Class B contingent were veterans Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen (Century Property Development BAT) who will be looking for their third win on the trot. They were only two seconds ahead of the Bosal Zarco pair of Marius van Vuuren and Johan Coetzee.

Third were Adenco BAT pair Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout with the prologue a disaster for drivers championship leader Jan Kraaij and son Jan Jnr in the Keymax BAT. They finished well down the pecking order and will start from near the back of the field tomorrow.

Arch rivals Archie Rutherford/Craig Doubtfire (Nashua Mobile Raceco) and reigning champions Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) set the pace in Class S. Drivers championship leader Nic Goslar, paired again with Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, was third.

The race starts at 08h00 at Lydenburg Toyota and is made up of three loops of approximately 130 kilometres each. A designated service point will operate from the Lydenburg rugby fields, with the first car expected at the finish at around 15h00.

NISSAN DOMINATES TOYOTA DEALER 400 PROLOGUE

Nissan entries dominated the Production Vehicle category prologue for the Toyota Dealer 400, the penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, to be run in the Lydenburg area tomorrow.

The factory Proudly South African Nissan Navara's of Hannes Grobler/Francois Jordaan and Duncan Vos/Ralph Pitchford took the first two places and are separated by 19 seconds. Third were Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr in the Century Property Development Nissan Navara, with the vehicle making a lone South African appearance before being taken over by a European crew on the 2007 Paris Dakar Rally.

Grobler and Jordaan currently lead the overall championship with arch rivals Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the factory Ford Racing ranger, leading the Super Production Class. Woolridge and Skjoldhammer were fourth overall and in the SP Class to set up an interesting clash with the Nissan trio.

The three Nissan crews all reported clean runs. For Corbett and Mohr it will be a tune-up race for the pair who will compete in a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup in Dubai next month.

Looking for a win on their own event were Castrol Toyota Hilux crews Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin and Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton, who were fifth and six respectively. Nissan have won four times this season and Ford twice, and the Toyota crews are keen for a victory.

"I think both Bevan and I could have gone a little faster this afternoon, but it was rough and we did not want to break the vehicles on the prologue," said Cronje. "It is the race that matters and I think we could spring a surprise."

Championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, set the pace in Class D ahead of the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody driven by Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber. Visser and Badenhorst will be looking for their fifth win of the season this weekend to wrap up the Class D championship.

Also looking to wrap up a title this weekend will be Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable. in the Ford Racing Ranger. The KwaZulu-Natal pair lead Class E by a healthy margin and, as expected, came in first in class on the prologue.

Schroder/Huxtable were followed by Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (Toyota Hilux) and George and Sharon Barkhuizen in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux. Next up was the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux of Brian Martin/Ockie Fourie with the Toyota crews looking for an upset victory.

The Toyota Dealer 400 starts at Lydenburg Toyota at 08h00 tomorrow and will be run over three loops of approximately 130 kilometres. A designated service area will operate from the Lydenburg rugby field with the first car expected at the finish at around 15h00.

-credit: msa

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