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PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS FOR GRANDSTAND FINISH A grandstand finish is on the cards in the Production Vehicle category in this year's Absa Off Road Championship. After the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race three teams remain...

PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS FOR GRANDSTAND FINISH

A grandstand finish is on the cards in the Production Vehicle category in this year's Absa Off Road Championship.

After the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race three teams remain with a realistic chance of lifting the overall championship - and with just 12 points separating the trio the last two events of the season are going to be white knuckle affairs. Current leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) have an 11 point advantage over reigning drivers' champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Team Castrol Toyota Hilux) with Botswana winners Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege a further point in arrears in the RFS BMW.

Second on the Botswana outing lifted Visser/Badenhorst to a total of 97 points. Third was enough to move Vos/Howie to 86 points, with winners Grobler/ter Stege moving to within a point of the factory Toyota crew.

Sun City 400 winners Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) and Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) are fourth and fifth in the standings and have mathematical chances of sneaking in the back door. But Marsh and Carolin trail the leaders by nearly 40 points and with two events to go are effectively out of the picture.

Although there are anomalies in scoring for overall and class finishes the situation in the premier SP Class is the same as in the overall battle. Here Visser/Badenhorst lead Vos/Howie by seven points with Grobler/ter Stege a further point in arrears with Marsh/Carolin and Bertholdt/Vermeulen completing the top five. An interesting situation has developed in Class D. Championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) missed the Botswana race and have had their lead slashed.

A win for Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the new 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux moved them to within three points of van Breda and du Toit. Venter and Palmer were the only Class D finishers on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race.

Victory in Botswana has put Class E championship leaders Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger) in almost impregnable position in Class E. They now lead Pikkie Labuschange and Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) by 29 points and have one hand on the trophy.

For teenager Woolridge it was a fairytale result on his first Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race. Woolridge's father, Neil, is a former overall winner of the desert classic and it looks as though the youngster is destined to follow in his footsteps.

The next event on the calendar is the Human Auto 400, in the Free State, with event headquarters, start, finish and DSP located at the Windmill Casino on October 22 and 23.

PRESSURE SITUATION FOR SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS

Pressure will be the name of the game as drama unfolds over the final two rounds of the Special Vehicle championship in this year's Absa Off Road Championship.

A third win on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race saw former South African champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Team Total Porter, ease their way further ahead of 2007 champions Kallie and Quinton Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, in the overall championship. But with just 12 points separating the two teams Variawa/Rousseau are still in a vulnerable position and the last two events, the Human Auto 400 in the Free State and the RFS Magalies 400 in Mogale City, are going to pressure cooker affairs.

Just to make it more interesting two other teams are not yet out of the overall picture. Class P leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) and a second Sullwald father and son team, Herman and Wichard (Sullwald Racing SVR), both have mathematical chances of lifting the overall title.

As matters stand there are 24 points covering the four teams. With 50 points up for grabs on the last two events anything can happen.

The current situation sees Variawa/Rousseau (94) ahead of Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (82) with van Staden/Rossouw (71) in third place. Herman and Wichard Sullwald are a further point in arrears and the inaugural Free State race, with teams venturing into the unknown, could play a pivotal role in the final outcome.

The situation in Class A is, however, a little different. Here anomalies in off road scoring see Herman and Wichard Sullwald with a three point lead over Variawa and Rousseau. Kallie and Quintin Sullwald are third and once again the situation is loaded with possibility.

The Class P status quo is more clear-cut. Here van Staden and Rossouw have handy leads in the driver and co-driver championships.

Van Staden leads Archie Rutherford (Regent Racing Jimco) by 21 points among the drivers with Swaziland based John Thompson third. For his part Rossouw has a 44 point lead over Thompson's regular co-driver, Clinton McNamara, who missed the Toyota Desert Race, and is home and dry.

The situation in Class B remains unchanged after the Botswana race. Although they were listed among the non finishers Bes Bezuidenhout and daughter-in-law Lindie (Adenco BAT) still have handy leads in the driver and co-driver stakes.

Veterans Coetzee Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) and Giel Nel (Zarco Truggy) finished first and second on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, but are among a handful of crews who are separated by one point but are well out of the championship running. Labuscagne was partnered by daughter Sandra in Botswana while Jaco Jonck sat alongside Nel.

The Human Auto 400 will be run from the Windmill Casino on the outskirts of Bloemfontein on October 22 and 23.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , John Thompson , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst