Title chase heats up post Lesotho Sun 400

ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE CHASE IS HOTTING UP After the Lesotho Sun 400 on August 5 and 6, round five of the 2005 Absa Off Road Championship, reigning champion Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody)...

ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE CHASE IS HOTTING UP

After the Lesotho Sun 400 on August 5 and 6, round five of the 2005 Absa Off Road Championship, reigning champion Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody) lead the production vehicle category with 85 points, a slim 10 points ahead of team-mates Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford.

Terence Marsh and Michael Whitehouse (Nashua Mobile BAT-Chev) enjoy a 12-point advantage in the special vehicle category over Lesotho Sun 400 winners Nick and Ryan Harper (BAT-Audi) and have accumulated 63 points to date.

Former off-road motorcyclists Cox and Pitchford, who have made the transition to four wheels in remarkably successful fashion, have won the last three events overall in the production vehicle category after completing their first season together in 2004 as the class D champions.

Grobler, who announced he would retire from motor sport at the end of this year after a distinguished career that has spanned 27 years and seen the likeable Hermanus Nissan dealer win three national off road championships as well as three national rally championships, is committed to winning a fourth Off Road Championship.

Third in the production vehicle category after five of the eight rounds of the Championship and leading class D are Henri Zermatten and Bodo Schwegler in the Mastercraft/Ryobi Mitsubishi Pajero with 50 points, 25 points behind Cox and Pitchford but just a single point ahead of Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i), who are joint second in class D.

Fifth overall and sharing second place in the Class D championship are Manfred Schroder and Alec Harris in the Team Ford Racing Ranger, three points behind Cronje and Birkin.

Gavin Cronje and Robin Houghton blotted their copybook when they failed to finish the Lesotho Sun 400 after rolling their Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i. They have dropped from third overall after the Sun City 400 to sixth overall and fourth in the Class D championship.

Zane Pearce is the leading driver in class E in his Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i, 18 points ahead of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst and 26 points ahead of reigning driver's champion Hugo de Bruyn (Castrol Toyota Hilux).

Third in the special vehicle category after Marsh/Whitehouse and the Harper father and son combination and also third in class A are Will Battershill and Reg Sutton (Jimco).

Reigning champions Atang Makgekgenene and Buks Carolin (Total Jimco), who were missing from the Lesotho Sun 400 line-up, are fourth overall, and fourth in class A.

Leading class B in their first season together in off road racing is former quad rider Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod in the Motorite Racing BAT-Nissan. They have 39 points overall and are an impressive fifth in the special vehicle category.

Third in class B are defending champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (JRE), who with John Thomson and Clint McNamara trail Hutchison/Ormerod by 11 points. A single point behind, and second in Class B are brothers Rudi and Pierre van Graan (Technochair Zarco Lite).

Veteran off-roaders Richard Schilling, a former special vehicle champion, and Chris Davies, a former biker, lead class S in their Plastotech Aceco by 28 points from Archie Rutherford and Vincent Horn (Ruthcon Sandmaster). Third is Thierry Hecq in the single seater Raceco.

Toyota leads the production vehicle manufacturers' challenge with 259 points from Nissan (202), Ford (89), Mitsubishi (60), Land Rover (21) and Chevrolet (3).

The sixth round of the Absa Off Road Championship, takes place in the Polokwane area in Limpopo Province on 9 and 10 September.

-msa-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ralph Pitchford , Gavin Cronje , Japie Badenhorst