Carnival: Tactical dilemmas for contenders

Nissan motorsport boss Glynn Hall is not the only one sitting with a potential tactical dilemma at the Carnival City Casino 400, the final round of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, on Friday and Saturday. Hall has two crews -- Class T title ...

Nissan motorsport boss Glynn Hall is not the only one sitting with a potential tactical dilemma at the Carnival City Casino 400, the final round of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, on Friday and Saturday.

Hall has two crews -- Class T title contenders Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke and Class D champions Duncan Vos and Mike Griffiths -- also challenging for the overall Production Vehicle category drivers and co-drivers championships. It opens up a potential tactical minefield for Hall -- but he won't be alone.

Former champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in the factory Ford Racing Ranger, are level on points with Vos and Griffiths in the overall championship, and have Grobler and Leeke breathing down their necks in the Class T title chase. Woolridge and Skjoldhammer won the Carnival City Casino 400 last season but have not picked up a win this season.

The Ford title challenge has been based on sheer consistency -- and therein lays the rub. Do the Ford pair, loaded with experience, opt for the conservative approach or do they attack from the start and keep at bay Grobler/Leeke and Nissan Hardbody team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan?

The Nissan crews have won six of the seven events this season, and this places additional pressure on Woolridge and Skjoldhammer. An intriguing situation is likely to arise with the Ford and Nissan crews playing a cat and mouse game.

A second factory Ford crew is faced with a similar problem. Defending Class E champions Manfred Schroder and Jack Peckham have been unable to shake off the attentions off Toyota Hilux privateers Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn. Only four points separate the two crews, and you can bet your boots both teams will have "spotters" out on the route keeping tabs on who is doing what.

On the Special Vehicle front the spotlight falls on Class B contenders Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain, in the Truck Time JRE, and veteran East Rand driver Giel Nel in the Luk Africa Truggy. De Chalain has clinched the Class B co-drivers championship, but Taylor is under threat from defending champion Nel who is on home territory.

Nel has no option but to attack from the word go and make sure he finishes ahead of Taylor and de Chalain. With a class win not an absolute prerequisite, the KwaZulu-Natal crew has the luxury of being able to monitor Nel's progress and adjust their plans accordingly.

"The various tactical permutations add to what should be a terrific finale to the season," said Motorsport South Africa Off-Road Car Racing Commission president Piet Swanepoel. "The only problem for title contenders is that all too often in motorsport the best laid plans are liable to fall apart.

"It simply adds to the intrigue."

-msa-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Giniel de Villiers , Duncan Vos