VISSER/BADENHORST SURPRISE PRODUCTION VEHICLE PROLOGUE WINNERS Polokwane, Friday -- Former Class D and E champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, today upstaged more fancied runners to win the Production Vehicle...
VISSER/BADENHORST SURPRISE PRODUCTION VEHICLE PROLOGUE WINNERS
Polokwane, Friday -- Former Class D and E champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, today upstaged more fancied runners to win the Production Vehicle category prologue for tomorrow's Ford Motorite 400,which starts here tomorrow.
Provisional results saw Visser and Badenhorst in their first season in the premier Super Production Class, come in a whopping 70 seconds ahead of reigning champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan in the factory Nissan Navara. The race is round six of the Absa Off Road Championship with Nissan looking for their sixth win in a row this season.
"For the first time this season we did not drive the vehicle as though it was a Class D bakkie," said Visser. "That made all the difference and we are very pleased.
"It is going to be a tough race, there will be lots of pressure and all we can do is go out there and give it our best shot."
Grobler and Jordaan had a clean run in the prologue but were just nine seconds ahead of Brandon Harcus and Marcelle Trethewey in the factory Ford Racing Ranger. Not far behind were former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in a second factory Ford Ranger, and Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin in another Castrol Toyota Hilux.
The top five were followed by Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn (Micaren Exel Dealer Team Toyota Hilux), African Heritage winners Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans in another Nissan Navara, Kobus van Tonder/Riaan Guelpa (Unifreight Ford Ranger), Bevan Bertholdt/Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux) and current championship leader Duncan Vos and Richard Leeke in a third works Nissan Navara. It was a disappointing outing for Vos who has a 100 percent finish record this season.
"We never got going," said Vos. "We have our work cut out for us tomorrow, and it is going to be hard work."
Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) produced one of their best showings of the season to lead the Class D contingent. They were 25 seconds ahead of local crew Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox (BB Auto Nissan Hardbody), with brothers Henri and Maurice Zermatten (Ryobi Nissan Hardbody) third and just one second ahead of Toyota Hilux pair Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock.
There was also an encouraging result for Thomas Rundle and Brian Roberts (Barden Tyre Services Nissan Hardbody) who were first in Class E. Rundle and Roberts came in just under a minute ahead of driver's championship leader Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro in the factory Ford Racing Ranger.
Third were newcomers Cor van Os and Arjen Kuipers (Ford Ranger) with championship contenders Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux), George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) and Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) having a tough time. They face an uphill battle but it is going to be a race of attrition.
The race starts at 08h00 at the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World at 08h00. The Designated Service Point (DSP) is at Meropa and the first cars are expected at approximately 14:00.
ALBERTS LEADS THE WAY ON FORD MOTORITE 400 PROLOGUE
Amathole 500 winners Nardus Alberts and Collin Hunter, in the Wrapsa BAT, led the way today in the Special Vehicle category on the prologue for the Ford Motorite 400 which starts here tomorrow.
On a route, which suits the Special Vehicle entries provisional results saw Alberts and Hunter finish 15 seconds ahead of championship leaders Nick and Ryan Harper in the Atlas Copco BAT. The event is round six of the Absa Off Road Championship with nine of the first 10 cars Special Vehicle entries with a terrific battle expected in the race proper.
"We had a clean run but I'm a little surprised we were quickest," said Alberts. "It is a nice bonus for us but it is going to be a very tough race.
"Being first on the road has advantages and disadvantages, so we'll simply go out and do the best we can."
The consistent Harpers have a comfortable lead in the overall and Class A championships, and will be looking for a good finish. A win for the pair will be a bonus.
"We will be happy with a top three finish," said Harper senior. "At this stage of the series a good haul of points is more important than a win. "We nearly fell into a donga today, and it is going to be a tough event."
Reigning champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege, in the Motorite BAT, were only three seconds behind the Harpers in third place. Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minnitt, in the Atlas Copco Porter, and Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Porter, rounded out the top five -- with only 30 second separating the quintet.
First of the Class B contingent were Capetonians Johann and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT. They came in ahead of championship leaders Hendrik and Jan Kraaij in the Regent Racing BAT, with Louw de Bruin and Rudi Britz (Ruwacon BAT) next up.
The Kraaij's have won Class B on four of the five events run so far this season, and have a tight grip on the championship. A puncture near the finish of the prologue cost them time, but they will start less than half a minute behind the Bezuidenhout's.
Reigning drivers champion Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin, in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, were first of the Class S entries. They had nearly 90 seconds in hand over Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) who were hampered with a power steering malfunction.
Only one second separates Schilling/Davies and Glen Gibson and Mark Whitehurst in the Absolute Aceco. Gibson/Whitehurst won the Amathole 500 and the Class S battle could be a feature of the race.
The event starts at 08h00 tomorrow at the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World. The Designated Service Point (DSP) will also be at Meropa with the first cars expected at the finish at approximately 15h00.