Carnival City: Series Prologue summary

TEAM CASTROL TOYOTA CREWS DOMINATE 4X4 MEGA WORLD 400 PROLOGUE Team Castrol Toyota Hilux crews Duncan Vos/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Robin Houghton, both without a win this season, today dominated the Donaldson Prologue to determine start ...

TEAM CASTROL TOYOTA CREWS DOMINATE 4X4 MEGA WORLD 400 PROLOGUE

Team Castrol Toyota Hilux crews Duncan Vos/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Robin Houghton, both without a win this season, today dominated the Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions for tomorrow's 4x4 Mega World 400 at Carnival City.

The event is round five of the Absa Off Road Championship with the factory Toyota team desperate for a win. With only 23 points separating seven teams at the top of the Production Vehicle championship the race is also important from a championship point of view.

Vos and Howie came in 33 seconds ahead of Taylor and Houghton with a good battle between the team-mates in the offing. Just under a minute behind the Toyota crews were a rejuvenated Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr in the Barden Tyres Nissan Navara.

Fourth fastest were championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the RFS Toyota Hilux with Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson (Regent Racing Nissan Navara), rounding out the top five. Whitehouse and Carlson are the only crew in the premier SP Class with a 100 percent finish record this season.

Neither of the factory Toyota crew reported any major problems. Rundle and Mohr, third on the recent Sun City 400, also reported a clean run with confidence high within the team.

Visser complained about not being able to find a rhythm, while Whitehouse/Carlson also reported a clean run. There were problems, however, for former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the diesel powered Team Ford Ranger, and last year's winners, Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen, in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux.

A gearbox mounting broke on the Ford Ranger while the Atlas Copco Hilux lost front wheel drive, got stuck in a vlei and was being assessed for possible front differential problems. Both crews will start from the back of the field and have mountains to climb.

There was also an interesting scenario in Class D where championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) will also start from the back of the field - while two new cars took first and second on the prologue. Van Breda/du Toit broke a side shaft while Deon Venter (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) and Louis Weichelt and Johan Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) had encouraging outings in cars being raced for the first time.

It was a good day for the 4x4 Mega World team with Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus setting the fastest time in Class E. Second were teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable, in the Team Ford Ranger, who currently lead the championship.

Class E casualties were brothers Diederik and Danie Hattingh in the Transcor Toyota Hilux who hit a ditch. Danie ended up in hospital for x-rays for lower back injuries and will be replaced in tomorrow's race by Mike Lawrenson.

Tomorrow's race starts at 8am with race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service all at the Carnival City complex. Public entry to these areas is free of charge as well as the 19 spectator viewing points along the route.

MATTHEWS/SMITH WIN 4X4 MEGA WORLD 400 PROLOGUE

The Century Racing pair of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith bounced back to form today when they won the Donaldson Prologue to determine Special Vehicle category start positions at tomorrow's 4x4 Mega World 400 at Carnival City.

The event is round five of the Absa Off Road Championship and takes the series into the second half of the season. Matthews and Smith, having their first outing in the Century Racing CR3, are flyers but have been hampered in the past by reliability problems.

The Century Racing car, previously campaigned in Class P by Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer, came in nearly a minute ahead of Bevan Bertholdt and Danie Stassen who were having their second outing in the new lab88 BAT. Third were reigning drivers' champion Evan Hutchison and Darryl Curtis in the Motorite BAT.

The first three cars all reported clean runs and there will be some hectic early action from crews who do not hold back. Chasing after them will be Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) and KwaZulu-Natal team Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell in the Gibson Racing SVR.

A trio of chargers completed the top eight with Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT), Sun City 400 winners Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) and Jimmy Zahos/Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) also disinclined to take prisoners.

The big losers on the day were championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Porter, who deposited the car in a deep ditch. Despite a helping hand from the Sullwald's, the car refused to budge and Variawa and Rousseau will start the race from the back of the field.

There was a setback for Class P championship leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw. A puncture dropped them down the pecking order and they will start 10th in class.

Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) set the fastest time ahead of the Regent Racing Porter pair of Archie Rutherford and Jacques le Roux who was making his national debut. Also making his debut was former rally champion Etienne Lourens who made an impressive start by finishing third, with experienced co-driver Philip Herselman in the Atlas Copco BAT.

The quickest time in Class B went to another Century Racing crew in Simon Beckett and Steve Harris who were just six seconds ahead of former Blue Bulls scrum half Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra in the Raysonics Zarco. Third were joint championship leaders Bez Bezuidenhout and daughter-in-law Lindie in the Adenco BAT.

The race starts at 8am tomorrow with race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service point all at Carnival City in Brakpan. Public entry to these areas is free as well as to 19 spectator viewing points along the route.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Mark Corbett , Darryl Curtis , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst