NEW PRODUCTION VEHICLE CATEGORY LEADERS IN ABSA OFF ROAD SERIES There has been a changing of the guard at the top of the table with privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst jumping into the overall lead in the Production Vehicle category in...
NEW PRODUCTION VEHICLE CATEGORY LEADERS IN ABSA OFF ROAD SERIES
There has been a changing of the guard at the top of the table with privateers Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst jumping into the overall lead in the Production Vehicle category in the Absa Off Road Championship.
Victory on the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu-Natal, round three of the Absa series, did the trick for Visser and Badenhorst. For the RFS/Visser Transport Toyota Hilux pair it was their second win of the season after a maiden national victory on the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape.
The KZN win has taken Visser and Badenhorst ahead of former South African champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS Toyota Hilux. Grobler and ter Stege lost around 12 minutes on the Donaldson Prologue on the Sugarbelt race, but fought back to rescue important championship points.
Grobler/ter Stege are one of two crews with a 100 percent finish record this season and now trail Visser/Badenhorst by five points. Former champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer (Ford Racing Ranger TDCi) are third in the overall championship, and made history on the Toyota Dealer 400 when they became the first team to win a national event in a diesel powered vehicle.
The top five in the overall championship are completed by reigning SA driver's champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) and the ultra consistent Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. Brothers-in-law Whitehouse and Carlson are the only other leading crew to have finished all three events this season.
Anomalies between points awarded for overall and class positions see a different slant on matters in the premier SP Class. Here Visser/Badenhorst and Grobler/ter Stege are tied at the top of the championship standings.
The two crews have an eight point advantage over Woolridge and Skjoldhammer who missed the first race of the season. Whitehouse/Carlson and Vos/Howie complete the top five with just three points separating third, fourth and fifth.
Two wins in three events have also given reigning champions Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) a tight hold on the Class D championship, while on the Class E front another Woolridge has burst onto the scene. Lance Woolridge, son of Neil, and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) hold an eight point lead over Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 winners Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus in the 4x4 Megaworld Hilux.
On the manufacturer front Toyota, after fighting rousing battles with Nissan for nearly a decade, are simply running away with matters. Toyota (250) lead Ford (87) by a huge margin with Nissan, who withdrew from off road racing at the end of last season, in an unaccustomed third place.
The ABSA Off Road Championship now goes into limbo top accommodate the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup with the next event the Sun City 400 in the Pilanesberg on July 16 and 17.
VARIAWA/ROUSSEAU JUMP INTO SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
A win on the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu-Natal has taken former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau into the overall lead in the Special Vehicle category in the Absa Off Road Championship.
The KZN win saw the Variawa/Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, leapfrog ahead of Class P crew Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) in the overall championship. Variawa/Rousseau won the opening event of the season, with van Staden and Rossouw making history on the Toyota Dealer 400 when they became the first Class P crew to win a national event overall.
Van Staden and Rossouw failed to finish the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 and slip back into second place in the overall standings. They trail Variawa/Rousseau by 14 points but have a six point advantage over reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergman (Motorite BAT) in third place.
Herman Sullwald and son Wichard (Sullwald Racing SVR) and another father and son team, Nick and Ryan Harper in the Atlas Copco BAT, round out the top five. The Sullwald's are the only top team with a 100 percent finish record this season while the Harpers, after a disastrous Donaldson Prologue on the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt, managed to salvage important points by fighting back to finish seventh overall and fifth in Class A.
Variances in points awarded for overall and class finishes paint a slightly different picture in the Class A championship. Here Variawa/Rousseau lead the Sullwald's by only two points with the Harpers a further 11 points adrift.
Hutchison/Bergmann and Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee, in the Cobalt Racing Porter, round out the top five. Only four points separate the Harpers, Hutchison/Bergmann and Zahos and Coetzee.
There were no Class B finishers in KZN with reigning champion Derick du Toit (Orange Tree BAT) retaining the lead in the driver's championship ahead of Marius Nicholson and Hamish Stubbs who have each competed in only one event. Adre Rheeder, who sat next to du Toit on the Adenco 400, stays ahead of Rod Jeffrey and Alistair Stubbs in the co-driver championship.
An interesting scenario is developing in Class P where van Staden and Rossouw hold an 11 point lead over Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire in the Regent Racing Jimco. However, only one point separates Rutherford/Doubtfire and Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Aceco) and Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer, in the Century Racing CR3.
Just make it more interesting two more crews are only a further eight points in arrears. Swaziland pair John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) have picked up two good results in a row while brothers Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) bounced back into contention by winning the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400.
The Absa Off Road Championship now goes into a lengthy break to accommodate the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. The next event is the Sun City 400 in the Pilanesberg on July 16 and 17.