SPECIAL VEHICLES DOMINATE FORD CARNIVAL CITY 400 PROLOGUE Special Vehicle entrants today dominated the prologue for the Ford Carnival City 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, by taking nine of the top 10 places. The...
SPECIAL VEHICLES DOMINATE FORD CARNIVAL CITY 400 PROLOGUE
Special Vehicle entrants today dominated the prologue for the Ford Carnival City 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, by taking nine of the top 10 places.
The quickest time over the 40 kilometre route to determine start positions for tomorrow's race was set by Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in a Motorite BAT, ahead of the Atlas Copco Porter driven by Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein. Third were newly crowned South African champions Alfie Cox and Hennie Ter Stege, in another Motorite BAT, with only 30 seconds separating the top three.
Toyota pair Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, were the first of the Production Vehicles in tricky conditions with heavy rain turning parts of the route into quagmires. The works Toyota squad has not had a happy time of it this season, but Cronje and Birkin were just under a minute quicker than Nissan pair Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford in the Proudly South African Nissan Navara.
The scenario at the top of the leader board leads to a highly interesting clash in the Special Vehicle category. There is not much love lost between the Motorite and Atlas Copco teams after a Motorsport South Africa appeal court this week ruled that Cox/Ter Steege and Hutchison/Bergmann, be placed ahead of provisional Toyota Dealer Team 400 winners Bertholdt and Kirstein.
Fourth in the Special Vehicle category were Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis in a Jimco, with Nardus Alberts/Collin Hunter (Wrapsa BAT) and Shameer Variawa/Andrew van Zyl in the Total Motorsport Porter next up. Brandon Harcus and Marcelle Trethewey in a third Motorite BAT and Gareth Wark, in the Superpave BAT, completed the top eight.
In Class B, where any one of four teams could win the championship, former champions Marcus Taylor and March de Chalain (JRE) set the quickest time ahead of Bez Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn in an Adenco BAT. Bezuidenhout/de Bruyn are one of the crews in line to win the championship and were ahead of title rivals Ernest Corbett/Warwick Goosen (Century Property Development BAT and Jan and Hendrik Kraaij in the Keymax BAT.
The Class S drivers championship is also up for grabs this weekend with reigning champion Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) two minutes ahead of Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire in the Nashua Mobile Raceco. Nic Goslar, who leads the drivers championship by nine points ahead of Schilling, and Richard Carolin (Kopanong Hotel Raceco) were seven minutes behind Schilling/Davies and have leeway to make up tomorrow.
On the Production Vehicle front Cronje and Birkin had a clean run. Vos and Pitchford also had a trouble free run and edged out, by only 15 seconds, team-mates and recently crowned South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan.
Fourth overall and in the Super Production Class were the Ford Racing Ranger pair of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. Nearly two minutes behind them were Bevan Bertholdt/Robin Houghton in a second Castrol Toyota Hilux, with Rob Gurney and Graeme Stainbank a further 22 seconds in arrears.
The father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, led home the Class D contingent. They were six minutes ahead of Kobus van Tonder and Riaan Guelpa in a Mitsubishi with Arnold du Plessis/Johan Knox (BB Auto Nissan Hardbody) in third place.
South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux) were the biggest casualties. A gearbox problem saw them fail to finish and they will start from the back of the field tomorrow.
With Class E champion Manfred Schroder sidelined with a broken collarbone stand-in driver Jack Peckham and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) were fastest in Class E. Second were Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie in the Castrol Toyota Hilux with Mark and Stewart Moffat third in the Bosal Toyota Hilux.
Tomorrow's race starts at 08h00 with competitors completing two laps of a 180 kilometre loop. The start/finish and designated service point are all at the Carnival City complex, with the first car expected home at around 14h00.