PLENTY OF ACTIVITY AS TEAMS PREPARE FOR 2007 SEASON There has been plenty of activity behind the scenes as teams prepare for this year's Absa Off Road Championship which opens with the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape on March 16 and...
PLENTY OF ACTIVITY AS TEAMS PREPARE FOR 2007 SEASON
There has been plenty of activity behind the scenes as teams prepare for this year's Absa Off Road Championship which opens with the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape on March 16 and 17.
A new season always bring about changes in team personnel, machinery and shifts in classes. This season has been no different with plenty of comings and goings, particularly among privateer teams.
Some things don't change, however, and it will be business as usual for Special Vehicle hopefuls Nardus Alberts and Collin Hunter in the Wrapsa BAT which turned in a couple of impressive performances last season. But there is change afoot where rivals Hermann and Karl-Heinz Sullwald are concerned, and they will be out in a pair of Sullwald Racing Zarcos now fitted with upgraded LS1 engines.
The Ruwacon team, based in Bloemfontein, is also looking forward to stirring the Class A pot in 2007. Peter Ruthven and De Waal Boshoff have taken delivery of new Spec 2 BAT, while David and Gary White will also compete this year in a BAT running in Class A.
A third Ruwacon car, a Class B BAT for Louw de Bruin is also on order. The team hopes to have de Bruin in action in the Western Cape, and will also have use of an impressive new transporter.
On the Class B front and old warrior will once again go to war, while a new team that looks to have plenty of promise will make its debut. Veteran Giel Nel, a former Class B champion, will again be out in the Bosal Zarco but this season will have some pretty company in the car.
For the third season in a row Nel will be accompanied by a new co-driver. With Johan Smalberger calling it a day via pressure of work, Nel will be accompanied this year by Sandra Labuscagne, the daughter of Nissan stalwart Coetzee Labuscagne.
Making its debut this season will be the new Pietermaritzburg based AM/PM Racing squad with experienced Alistair Stubbs and former SA champion Marc de Chalain sharing driving duties. The pair will campaign a Toyota powered Viper that has undergone an extensive rebuild, and could be a force to be reckoned with in Class B.
In the Production Vehicle category Labuscagne and Johan Gerber will be running a new Nissan, again under the Raysonics banner, in Class D. Their old car has been taken over by Gavan Gray who switches from a Class S entry in the Special Vehicle category to the Production Vehicle class.
In another Class D development the ex Deon Schoeman/Jan Sime Nissan Hardbody has been taken over by the father and son team of Chris du Plooy senior and junior. The vehicle has been rebuilt and will run under the colours of new sponsor Retirement Fund Solutions.
Bloemfontein based George and Sharon Barkhuizen, in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, who were scheduled to move into Class D this season, have had a rethink. The pair will now stay in Class E with the Ruwacon Toyota having undergone a complete revamp.
The Century Property Development Racing team also has ambitious plans in the short and long term.
The team has just taken delivery of a new Nissan Navara with driver Mark Corbett and co-driver Juan Mohr aiming to emerge as serious Production Vehicle overall and Super Production Class title contenders in this year's Absa Off Road Championship.
Corbett's father Ernest, who last year won Class B with son in-law Warwick Goosen in the Century Property Development BAT, will miss the Cape event. He and Goosen will be back in action on the Nissan 400 in KwaZulu-Natal on April 13 and 14, with the BAT currently undergoing a rebuild.
Century Racing also plans to run the Nissan Navara SP in the 2008 Dakar rally. A decision will be made shortly with much depending on Corbett's business commitments.
The team is also building an all new Class A car which is scheduled to make its debut in the Special Vehicle category later in the season. The elder Corbett will then switch from Class B to Class A for the remainder of the season.
The calendar of events for this year is:
March 16 and 17: Nissan Dealer 400 -- Western Cape; April 13 and 14 -- Nissan 400-- KwaZulu-Natal; May 12 to 14: Sun City 400 -- Northwest Province; June 15 and 16: Toyota 1000 Desert Race -- Botswana; July 27 and 28: Eastern Cape 400 -- Eastern Cape; September 7 and 8: Ford Motorite Limpopo 400 -- Limpopo Province; November 2 and 3 -- Toyota Dealer 400 -- Mpumalanga; November 30/December 1: Ford Carnival City 400.