Mpumalanga: Series event summary

SECOND WIN FOR VISSER/BADENHORST ON ATLAS COPCO SUGARBELT 400 Eston, Saturday - Privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst withstood all the pressure two factory entrants could throw at them to win the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400, round three of...

SECOND WIN FOR VISSER/BADENHORST ON ATLAS COPCO SUGARBELT 400

Eston, Saturday - Privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst withstood all the pressure two factory entrants could throw at them to win the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.

Visser and Badenhorst, in the RFS/Visser Transport Toyota Hilux, finished 66 seconds ahead of reigning South African driver's champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, to secure their second overall and SP Class victory of the season. Earlier in the season Visser/Badenhorst scored their maiden national win when they won the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape.

A second Team Castrol Toyota Hilux in the hands of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton took the final place on the podium. The second works Toyota Hilux finished just over five minutes behind Vos and Howie.

Visser and Badenhorst won the Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions by one second from Taylor and Houghton with the Vos/Howie entry another nine seconds in arrears. It was clear Visser and Badenhorst were going to come under severe pressure from the two works Toyotas, with the early stages of the race crucial.

"We knew if we could keep Anthony and Duncan behind us in the early stages, we would have a chance," said Badenhorst. "We made a few mistakes here and there but it was difficult to pass and being first on the road the dust worked to our advantage.

"We worked hard to earn some breathing space and then it was a matter of not throwing it all away."

Visser and Badenhorst first came under pressure from Taylor and Houghton on the first of the three loops that made up the race. A broken brake pipe then cost the Toyota crew five minutes in the pits, and that effectively ended their victory challenge.

The chase was then taken up by Vos and Howie who identified two overtaking areas. They fluffed the first and were not close enough at the second to apply any pressure.

"With all the dust we weren't close enough," said Vos. "All we could hope for was a mistake from Chris and Japie but they held it all together."

Local favourite Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the Ford Racing Ranger TDCi, came up with a workmanlike race to finish fourth. The pair made history recently when they became the first crew to win a national race in a diesel powered vehicle.

The top five was rounded out by another local hero, off road legend Alfie Cox, and German co-driver Jurgen Schroder in a PS Laser Nissan Navara. The Navara was originally built for this year's Dakar Rally with Cox and Schroder not eligible to score points towards the Absa championship.

Cox and Schroder were followed home by former SA champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, who came up with a superb drive to rescue valuable championship points. The pair went into the race leading the championship but a mishap on the prologue saw them start 12 minutes behind the leaders.

"On this event anything can happen and we knew that if we finished we would pick up decent points," said ter Stege. "We never went in for heroics and we are very happy with the way it finally turned out."

Michael Whitehouse and brother-in-law Mathew Carlson kept their impressive finish record intact with seventh place in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. They were passed at the death by Grobler/ter Stege and were followed home by Christiaan du Plooy junior and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux) who completed the top eight.

Reigning SA champions Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit took the Class D win in the new Northam Toyota Hilux with the car having its first outing in what is a new category. It was their second success of the season after a win on the Adenco 400.

The Class E honours went to Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux with the pair missing out on last year's championship by a single point. Labuschagne and Erasmus were given a run for their money by local teenager Lance Woolridge, son of Neil, and Ward Huxtable, in a Ford Racing Ranger, who were looking for a second successive win.

SECOND WIN FOR VARIAWA/ROUSSEAU ON ATLAS COPCO SUGARBELT 400

Eston, Saturday - Former South African champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau put the seal on a near perfect weekend when they won the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.

Variawa and Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, produced a copybook race to notch up their second overall Special Vehicle and Class A victory of the season. The pair also won the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape at the start of the season and had around 90 seconds in hand over former SA champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in the Sullwald Racing BAT.

Reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite BAT, came home in third place to grab the final spot on the podium. Hutchison and Bergmann were a further five minutes in arrears after an unspectacular outing.

Variawa and Rousseau were second on the Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions, and started the race behind the Sullwald father and son combination.

The Total crew finally eased into the lead just before the compulsory 15 minute stop at the end of the second of the three loops that made up the race.

"On this race there are just too many places where you can be caught out," said Variawa. "We did not want to take any chances but Kallie and Quinton made a mistake that allowed us into the lead.

"The dust was a problem but after that it was just a matter of keeping it all together."

It was a best performance of the season for the Sullwald's who were national champions in 2008. They were, however, magnanimous in defeat.

"We were beaten by a better team," said Sullwald senior. "Shameer was very fast and they did not make any mistakes on the final loop.

"From our point of view it was a good performance and we are happy with a good haul of championship points."

A fine performance saw local crew Lance Trethewey and Richard Horner brought them into fourth place. The pair took full advantage of local knowledge to come up with an impressive performance.

Another fine performance saw brothers Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, return to action with a resounding fifth overall that gave them the win in Class P. It was the first event for the brothers since they dropped out of the Adenco 400 at the start of the season.

The Bezuidenhout's finished around nine minutes ahead of Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer in the Century Racing CR3. Among the Class P casualties were overall Special Vehicle and Class P championship leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw in the Atlas Copco BAT.

Van Staden and Rossouw made history recently when they became the first Class P team to score an overall win in a national series. It earned them a place in the Atlas Copco team but they will want to forget this race.

Two other Class P crews rounded out the top eight with John Telford and Jaco Swart (Calcamite BAT) edging out former champions Richard Schilling and Chris Davies. After a prologue problem Schilling/Davies started last in the class and fought back to fourth.

The tough route took its toll on Class B runners and there were no finishers in the category. Championship leaders Derick du Toit and Rod Jeffrey (Orange Tree BAT) ran into prologue problems along with Keith and Andre Makenete (Zarco) who blew an engine on the prologue.

Among the race casualties were Simon Beckett and Steve Harris in the Century Racing BAT who fell by the wayside after a promising start.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Jurgen Schroder , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst