Carnival City: Series prologue summary

NISSAN DRAW FIRST BLOOD AT HIGHVELD 400 Brakpan, Friday -- The Donaldson Nissan team drew first blood today when Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr romped to victory in the prologue for tomorrow's Highveld 400, round six of the Absa Off Road ...

NISSAN DRAW FIRST BLOOD AT HIGHVELD 400

Brakpan, Friday -- The Donaldson Nissan team drew first blood today when Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr romped to victory in the prologue for tomorrow's Highveld 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Carnival City.

Provisional results gave former South African champion Grobler and Mohr a 63 second advantage over Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton, in the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux. With team-mates Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford running away with the championship, tomorrow's race is a final throw of the dice for Grobler/Mohr and other premier SP Class crews.

Third fastest were Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen, in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, with Vos and Pitchford fourth. Vos and Pitchford have an opportunity of virtually wrapping up the overall and Class SP championships and were apologetic for costing their team-mates time during the 100 kilometre time trial.

"Hannes and Juan stopped to help us when we got stuck on a hump," said Vos. "It cost them time which could be vital in the race.

"We also had a puncture but it wasn't too bad a result for us."

The top five was completed by Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin, in the second Castrol Toyota Hilux, There was also a fine performance from privateers Louis Weichelt and Maret Bezuidenhout (N1 4x4 Ford Ranger) who were sixth in what is only their second outing in the ex Kobus van Tonder Ford.

Championship leader Cliff Weichelt and new navigator Johann Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) were the quickest of the Class D entrants. They came in head of Heine Strumpher/Henri Hugo (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) and Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit in the Northam Toyota Hilux D4D.

There was a good result for Free State crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling, in the Ruwacon Ford Ranger, who set the fastest time in Class E. Next up were Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux.

There was something of a disaster, however, for Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus in the second 4x4 Megaworld Hilux. The pair lead the championship from Venter and Palmer but blew a motor.

The race starts at Carnival City, in Brakpan, at 08h00 tomorrow. Race headquarters and the designated service area are located at the Carnival City complex with a number of spectator areas within easy reach of the start and finish.

SPECIAL VEHICLE SURPRISES AT HIGHVELD 400

Brakpan, Friday -- There were one or two surprises among the Special Vehicle category in today's prologue for the Highveld 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Carnival City tomorrow.

Provisional results saw the fastest time go to Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer, in the Century Racing CR1 4x4, who steamrollered the rest of the field aside. Corbett and Balzer finished the 100 kilometre prologue 48 seconds ahead of Gerhard du Plessis and Ferdie Seegers, in a Jimco, who were making their first appearance after a two or three season hiatus.

The third quickest time went to Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Porter, with Nick and Ryan Harper (Atlas Copco BAT) and brothers David and Gary White (Ruwacon BAT) completing the top five.

Corbett and Balzer will be over the moon with their prologue performance, but will be a little wary of an iffy reliability record over the last two seasons. The CR1 is quick and nimble but has proved to be a little fragile.

Although out of action for a couple of seasons du Plessis and Seegers have a proven record. Behind them the Harpers have a reputation for consistency while Variawa and Rousseau are chargers.

It was a fine performance from the White brothers and one that saw them head the Class P runners. Second in Class P were national rookies Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (KEC BAT) with KwaZulu-Natal driver Don Thompson and Hjalmar van Gessellen third in a Zarco.

The Class B honours went to a second Century Racing crew, Simon Beckett and Steve Harris, in the Century Racing BAT. Championship leaders Derrick du Toit and Ian Pienaar (Orange Tree BAT) were second fastest with the Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew, lying third in the championship, taking third in a Zarco.

It was a disappointing prologue for runaway championship leaders Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the Motorite Revo1 4x4 entry. The pair were eighth fastest in what Hutchison later described as the worst time trial of his career.

The pair have a mathematical chance of wrapping up the overall championship with two events still to run, but face an uphill battle tomorrow. Woes included getting lost, spinning in front of the TV cameras and a puncture.

There were also prologue problems for Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing Zarco) who broke the steering, and Class P leaders Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT. After two races in a row without a point the Bezuidenhout's need a good results but were fifth in class after battling with an engine down on power.

The race starts at 08h00 tomorrow at Carnival City in Brakpan. Race headquarters and the designated service area are also at Carnival City with a number of spectator points within easy reach of race headquarters.

-credit: saoffroadracing.co.za

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Ralph Pitchford , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos