Adenco 400: Series prologue notes

NISSAN DOMINATE ADENCO 400 PROLOGUE Adenco 400 -- Round 1 -- Absa Off Road Championship -- March 20 and 21 The Donaldson Nissan Navara factory team today dominated the prologue for tomorrow's Adenco 400, round one of this year's Absa Off Road...


Adenco 400 -- Round 1 -- Absa Off Road Championship -- March 20 and 21

The Donaldson Nissan Navara factory team today dominated the prologue for tomorrow's Adenco 400, round one of this year's Absa Off Road Championship, to be run in the Darling/Mamre area.

Reigning driver's champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford, who finished second on the Dakar Rally, lead home team-mates Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr and Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans. Norwegian Tollefsen and Briton Evans, who are in their third year of racing in the Absa series, were fourth overall on the Dakar Rally.

Vos/Pitchford were 14 seconds ahead of Grobler and Mohr who is the 2008 co-driver's champion. Tollefsen and Quin were nearly two minutes further back on what was a particularly tough 66 kilometre prologue. "It was tough and cars in the lower classes are going to battle in the race," said Vos. "You have to keep your wits about you, and rule one here is not to tempt fate."

Two Toyota crews completed the top five overall and in the premier SP Class. Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst came home fourth after a solid performance and led home the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux of Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton.

"It was a rough and tough prologue," said Taylor. "Caution was the key if you did not want to damage the car."

The second Castrol Toyota Hilux of Hein Lategan, on his debut for the works team, and Chris Birkin was one of the high profile casualties. They were forced out by an engine problem and were joined by Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) with a clutch problem and Kobus van Tonder and Riaan Guelpa (Uni Freight Ford Ranger) with a starter motor problem.

Lategan, the de Bruyns and van Tonder/Guelpa were all hoping overnight repairs would enable them to make the start of the race proper. For the three teams, however, it meant burning the midnight oil.

The quickest Class D time went to former driver's champion Cliff Weichelt (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) who is reunited with son Louis in the car this season. They led home last year's Rookie of the Year team, Dewald van Breda and John du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux D4D), who have moved up from Class E.

The big losers in Class D were Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody. A terminal engine problem sidelined them on an event they won last year.

Class E was characterised by an impressive off road debut by former SA circuit racing and world kart champion Leeroy Poulter. Partnered by Rob Howie in a factory Donaldson Nissan Hardbody the talented Poulter came in second behind last year's Limpopo 400 winners Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux.

"It was baptism of fire for Leeroy, but he did a great job," said Howie. "What made his performance even more impressive was that conditions did not favour the Class E entries."


There was a controversial end today to the Special Vehicle prologue on the Adenco 400, the opening round of the Absa Off Road Championship, to be run in the Darling/Mamre area tomorrow.

Provisional results saw the Century Racing BAT pair of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith were originally credited with a win on the prologue which determines start positions in the race proper. But the pair were later penalised 30 minutes for deviating from the route and this relegated them to 19th place.

The decision by the stewards of the meeting elevated reigning South African champions Karl-Heinz Sullwald and son Quintin, in the Sullwald Racing Bat, to pole position. They were followed by impressive newcomers Jimmy Zahous and Stephan Coetzee, in the Atlas Copco Porter, and former South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the impressive new Motorite Revo1 4x4.

"It was a very rough route and we wrong slotted on a number of occasions," said Sullwald senior. "The brakes weren't all that hot so we'll make changes there, but overall it was a good off road route."

Hutchison was a little more forthright saying it was the roughest prologue he had ever done. He was more than happy, however, to bring the revolutionary 4x4 car home in one piece.

Fourth and fifth were filled by former SA champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) and Naeem Moosajee and Mohammad Moultson in the Tyrerack Porter. For Moosajee it was an important result after a huge accident on this event last season kept him out of off road racing for all but the last race of the year.

"It was tough on the body and the machine but it did a lot of good for my confidence," said Moosajee. "We had an odo problem but otherwise the car was good."

There was a major boost for Bez Bezuidenhout, who won Class B last year, and son Deon in the Adenco BAT. The pair set the fastest Class B time ahead of Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar in another BAT.

Third were Simon Beckett and Steve Harris in the Century Racing BAT. Only 20 seconds separated the Bezuidenhout's and du Toit/Pienaar while Beckett/Harris have a mountain to climb in making up more than 10 minutes.

The impressive KwaZulu-Natal pair of Don Thompson and Don Blakey set the pace in Class P in the privateer Zarco. They were mixing it with the likes of Variawa/Rousseau and Moosajee/Moultson but only had a 16 second advantage over reigning champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) who were obviously relishing home ground advantage.

Third in Class P were former SA multiple champion Richard Schilling and Chris Davies in the Aceco RS. They had a couple of wrong slots but are within three minutes of the class leaders and a good battle could develop.

-credit: saorc

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Ralph Pitchford , Quin Evans , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst , Leeroy Poulter