VOS TAKES CONTROL OF PRODUCTION VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP Former South African champions Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford are on track to win the Production Vehicle category in this year's Absa Off Road Championship. Vos, in the factory Nissan Navara,...
VOS TAKES CONTROL OF PRODUCTION VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP
Former South African champions Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford are on track to win the Production Vehicle category in this year's Absa Off Road Championship. Vos, in the factory Nissan Navara, scored his third win on the trot on the recent Amathole 500 in the Eastern Cape to open up a huge 37 point lead in the driver's overall championship. Vos has reeled off successive wins on the Sun City 400, the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana and the Eastern Cape event to move well clear of team-mate and reigning champion Hannes Grobler.
The Amathole 500 result took Pitchford, who missed the Toyota Desert Race because of overseas commitments, into a 12 point lead over team-mate Francois Jordaan in the co-driver's championship. Third in the driver's and co-driver's championships are Castrol Toyota pair Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin who threw away wins in Botswana and the Eastern Cape by crashing within sight of the finish while in the lead.
There is a logjam in fourth place with Ford Racing Ranger crews Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr and Neil Woolridge/Kenny Skjoldhammer tied with overseas pair Ivar Tollefsen / Quin Evans in a third factory Nissan Navara. The three crews trail Cronje/Birkin by just three points and are one point clear of Mark Corbett and Rudy Balzer in the Century Racing Nissan Navara. As is the case in the Special Vehicle category anomalies in the allotment of points for overall and class finishes sees a slightly different picture in the premier Super Production Class. Vos/Pitchford still lead but Harcus/Mohr, with a 100 percent finish record, leapfrog Grobler/Jordaan with Cronje/Birkin in fourth place.
Cronje/Birkin has a two point lead over Corbett/Balzer with Tollefsen and Evans a further point in arrears. Only nine points separate Harcus/Mohr and Tollefsen/Evans. Class D leaders Harold and Tiaan Coen, in a Land Rover, had a sorry time of it on the Amathole 500. For all that the pair still lead Class D but with a much reduced majority. The Coen's are now only three points ahead of off-road newcomers Ramon Bezuidenhout/Stefan Lock (Toyota Hilux) with veteran Coetzee Labuscagne (Rasonics Nissan Hardbody) tied with Bezuidenhout in the driver's championship. Next up are Jurie and Andre du Plessis (BB Auto Nissan Hardbody) and brothers Henri and Maurice Zermatten in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody.
Only eight points separate the Coen's and the Zermatten brothers. After a dodgy start to the season the Zermatten's have reeled off two wins in a row and are now distinct threats in a close fought championship.
The demise on the Amathole 500 of Ruwacon Toyota Hilux pair George and Sharon Barkhuizen and Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie has eased the logjam in Class E. Jack Peckham (Ford Racing Ranger) has a perfect finish record this season, and is now 10 points clear of Jannie Visser (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) in the driver's championship. But Lucio Santoro, who sits alongside Peckham, succumbed to a bout of severe car sickness on the Amathole 500, and Peckham finished the event on his own. That puts Joks le Roux, who shares the Team Barberspan entry with Visser, at the top of the co-driver championship.
The Barkhuizen's now find themselves third in the driver and co-driver standings. Driver George is 11 points behind Visser and trails Peckham by 21 points. The picture is a little rosier for wife Sharon who is only one point behind Santoro and 11 points behind Le Roux. Martin/Fourie slip to fourth on the log with Thomas Rundle and Brian Roberts fifth in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Hardbody.
As is the case in the Special Vehicle championship competitors in the Production Vehicle classes also have to drop one result at the end of the season. This puts pressure on crews with one or two non finishes already to their names.
The next event is the Ford Motorite 400 at Meropa Casino & Entertainment World in Limpopo on September 7 and 8.
HARPERS TIGHTEN HOLD ON SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP
A solid second place on the recent Amathole 500 in the Eastern Cape has seen the father and son team of Nick and Ryan Harper tighten their hold on the Special Vehicle title chase in the Absa Off Road Championship.
The Harpers, in the Atlas Copco BAT, have also been helped by up and down form from other leading teams. This has helped the Harpers open up a 24 point lead at the top of the overall championship with some tight battles going on behind them.
The Harpers are comfortably ahead of former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau in the Total Motorsport Porter. Variawa and Rousseau are under pressure from some heavyweights in Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergmann (Motorite BAT), Amathole 500 winners Nardus Alberts/Collin Hunter (Wrapsa BAT) and reigning champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege (Motorite BAT) with the consistent Clint Gibson (Absolute BAT) into the top five in the drivers championship.
Variawa/Rousseau have a slender one points lead over Hutchison and Bergmann with Alberts/Hunter another seven points in arrears. Gibson and Cox and ter Stege, who have been hit by two non finishes in a row, are another two points behind.
Because of variations in the allotment of points in the overall and class championships, the situation differs in the Class A standings. Here the Harpers are 16 points clear of Hutchison/Bergman and Variawa/Rousseau who are tied for second place.
Gibson is third in the drivers championship, five points behind Hutchison and Variawa, with Herman Sullwald (Sullwald Transport Zarco) fourth and former champion Terence Marsh (Regent Racing BAT) and Alberts tied for fifth place. Just eight points separate the crews in second and fifth.
Among the co-drivers Bergmann and Rousseau are tied for second place with Hunter third. Pieter Groenewald, who partners Marsh, is fourth with Gary White, who shares the Ruwacon BAT with brother David, in fifth place.
Another father and son team, Hendrik and Jan Kraai, lost their unbeaten record this season on the Amathole 500 but still have a healthy lead in Class B. The Regent Racing BAT crew are a whopping 37 points ahead of Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, who have performed consistently this season.
A win on the Amathole 500 has lifted KwaZulu-Natal crew Marcus Taylor, a former SA champion, and Derek Keith (JRE) into third place. Taylor/Keith are just two points ahead of multiple SA champion Giel Nel and Sandra Labuscagne (LUK ATE Truggy) with Bes Bezuidenhout and Johan de Bruyn (Adenco BAT) a further point in arrears.
Richard Schilling/Chris Davies Plastotech Aceco) and Nic Goslar/Richard Carolin, in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, the frontrunners in Class S, both failed to see out the distance on the Amathole 500. That gave Glenn Gibson/Mark Whitehouse (Absolute Aceco) a maiden victory, but Schilling/Davies still have a handy lead over Goslar and Carolin.
With three events left to run this season, crews at the sharp end of championships will be well aware that having to drop one result at the end of the season could drastically alter some championship battles. Crews with 100 percent finish records so far have a slight advantage, but there will be pressure on those who already have one or more non finishes to their names. The next event is the Ford Motorite 400 at Meropa Casino & Entertainment world in Limpopo on September 7 and 8.