Carnival City 400 final summary

HUTCHISON/BERGMANN WIN FORD CARNIVAL CITY 400 MUDBATH The Motorite BAT team scored its sixth win of the season when Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann today won the Special Vehicle category on a Ford Carnival City 400 mudbath. The final event...

HUTCHISON/BERGMANN WIN FORD CARNIVAL CITY 400 MUDBATH

The Motorite BAT team scored its sixth win of the season when Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann today won the Special Vehicle category on a Ford Carnival City 400 mudbath.

The final event of the Absa Off Road Championship lived up to its reputation as a rainmaker, with heavy intermittent rain throughout the weekend turning the route into a quagmire. It was a case of survival of the fittest with the more than difficult conditions taking a heavy toll.

Hutchison and Bergmann outlasted the rest of the field to grind out their second win of the season and round out a highly successful championship for the Motorite BAT squad. Alfie Cox and Hennie Ter Steege won the overall and Class A championships and, along with Brandon Harcus, also scored two wins during the season.

Cox and Ter Stege were among today's casualties, along with a string of other high profile teams, while Harcus and Marcelle Trethewey had an adventurous day. The pair rolled the car, broke a CV joint and picked up 90 minutes in penalties for various transgressions -- all of which dropped them well down the final pecking order with the pair eventually classified the last Special Vehicle to finish.

Among those to fall by the wayside were former SA champion Shameer Variawa and Andrew van Zyl (Total Porter) who buried the car in a mudhole, Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein (Atlas Copco Porter) with alternator problems and Rob and Gareth Wark (Superpave BAT). For crews in the open cockpit Special Vehicles the conditions were particularly unpleasant with rain and mud making for poor visibility.

In the end it was outgoing SA champions Terence Marsh and Mike Whitehouse, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, who came in second. It was their best performance of the season, with the pair 20 minutes behind Hutchison and Bergmann.

Third overall and in Class A in what was also their best performance of the season, were Lesotho crew John Moore and Ashley Thorn in the Free Spirit Chev. They were followed home by Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis, in a Jimco, and Class B winners Jan and Hendrik Kraaij in the Keymax BAT, who rounded out the top five.

For the Kraaij's, however, victory was not enough to give them the Class B title in their first season of off road racing. Seventh overall and second in Class B was enough, in terms of unofficial scoring, to give veteran Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen, in the Century Property Developments BAT, the championship by a five point margin.

Nashua Mobile Racing crew Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire were first home in Class S where Nic Goslar (Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) wrapped up the drivers championship -- despite withdrawing from the race after the first of the two 180 kilometre loops. Goslar was suffering from blurred vision from all the mud on the route, and handed over the car to co-driver Richard Carolin for the final loop.

It meant that Goslar did not score points but closest rival, reigning champion Richard Schilling (Plastotech Aceco), retired with a blown motor. Schilling's co-driver, Chris Davies, had the navigator's championship in the bag prior to this weekend, and Carolin's brave effort was not enough to move him ahead of Doubtfire.

FIRST WIN FOR CASTROL TOYOTA TEAM ON FORD CARNIVAL CITY 400

Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton provided Toyota with a dream result today when they won the Production Vehicle category on a wet and muddy Ford Carnival City 400.

The final event of the Absa Off Road Championship lived up to its reputation as a rainmaker, with intermittent rain throughout the weekend turning the route into a mudbath. But Bertholdt and Houghton brushed aside the treacherous conditions to give Toyota their first win since the Barberspan 500 in 2002.

Provisional scoring saw the Bertholdt/Houghton success also provide the spearhead for Toyota to clinch the prestige South African Manufacturers Championship ahead of arch rivals Nissan. For Houghton it was a special moment in that he was also part of the 2002 win with Apie Reyneke in a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Two punctures at the start of the second of two 180 kilometre loops provided Bertholdt and Houghton with a nervous finish to the race. "We did not have another spare," said Houghton, "and it provided us with a few anxious moments."

Second were Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the works Ford Racing Ranger, with victory enough to see them win the Super Production Class ahead of overall SA champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan in the Proudly South African Nissan Navara. Both Grobler/Jordaan and team-mates Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford were casualties today via steering problems, with the Nissan team suffering its first double non finish since the Ford Carnival City 400 in 2003.

A broken propshaft put paid to any hopes Woolridge and Skjoldhammer had of winning their own event. "It was tough work in these conditions with only front wheel drive," said Woolridge, "and we were just happy to make it to the finish."

Third overall were Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox, in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody, who won Class D. It was a win which put an end to a seven race winning streak by Toyota with champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux) among the casualties.

Fourth overall and Class E winners were Jack Peckham and Ward Huxtable in the Ford Racing Ranger. Peckham was standing in for recently crowned Class E champion Manfred Schroder, and today's victory took Ford's tally this season to six wins in eight outings.

Peckham and Huxtable came in eight minutes ahead of brothers Mark and Stuart Moffat in the Bosal Toyota Hilux. The Moffat's, in turn, were 15 minutes ahead of the father and son combination of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, who were sixth overall and second in Class D.

Class E crews Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (Toyota Hilux) and George and Sharon Bezuidenhout (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux), winners of the recent Toyota Dealer 400, were third and fourth in Class E. It put the finishing touches to Toyota's triumph in the SA Manufacturers Championship.

-credit: cra

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , John Moore , Ralph Pitchford , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst