By all accounts the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship...presented by Absa will go down to the wire and with only two events remaining the forthcoming Toyota Dealer 400, which will be run in the Lydenburg area on October 24 and 25, will be...
By all accounts the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship...presented by Absa will go down to the wire and with only two events remaining the forthcoming Toyota Dealer 400, which will be run in the Lydenburg area on October 24 and 25, will be crucial for many teams.
Despite winning the Sun City 400 overall Production Vehicle Championship contenders Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke (Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody) were only able to increase their lead over Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2700i) in the overall championship by two points after the Toyota pair finished third overall and first in Class E.
Grobler/Leeke and Cronje/Birkin are the only crews to have finished every event this season with the Nissan pair picking up five overall wins and a fourth place and the Toyota duo three podium finishes and four class wins.
Veteran Kassie Coetzee and Ockie Fourie have performed consistently in the Class E Castrol Toyota Hilux KZ-TE and only trail the leaders by 45 points and their teammates by 27 points. Coetzee and Fourie have an outside chance of winning the championship if either or both of the first and second placed crews fail to finish the next two events.
Grobler has the Class T Drivers title already sewn up because second placed Scott Abraham (Atlas Copco/Chicago Pneumatic Jeep) has taken up employment in Germany and will miss the remaining events while third placed Neil Woolridge (Team Ford Racing Ranger) would fall seven points short if he were to win the next two events and Grobler did not finish either. Leeke need not be to concerned about winning the Class T Co-drivers championship because even if Richard Carolin (Atlas Copco/Chicago Pneumatic Jeep) were to win the next two events and Leeke failed to finish they would be on equal points. Leeke would be awarded the championship by virtue of a count-out based on the number of class wins.
The Class D championship has been closely fought and is wide open. GBS Racing Nissan pair Hein Grobler and Gerhard Prinsloo has a six-point lead over father and son Johan and Marthinus van der Merwe (Chavani Colt Rodeo) blotted their copybook by not finishing the Sun City 400. GBS Racing teammates Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber are third and along with Deon Schoeman and Jeremy Fall (Topcar Racing Nissan Hardbody), who were excluded from the Sun City 400, pose the biggest threat to the first and second placed teams.
Cronje and Birkin cannot afford any mistakes on the Toyota Dealer 400 or the Carnival City Casino 400 because teammates Coetzee and Fourie are only 15-points behind them. Former Class E champions Manfred Schroder and Jack Peckham (Team Ford Racing Ranger) have a chance of equaling Cronje and Birkin's points if the two Castrol Toyota crews record non-finishes on the next two events. The Ford pair would then have to be satisfied with the runner-up prize because Cronje and Birkin would be declared the winners on the basis of having recorded more class wins.
Class F has been poorly supported with the two contenders each only finishing one event this season. Jaap Zeeman and Johannes Barwise (DFS Ferobrake Ford Cortina) have a two point lead over Andre Botha and Beans Hydenrych in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Chevy.
There has been a major reshuffle in the Special Vehicle Championship after the Sun City 400 with former Class B champion Giel Nel (Luk Africa Truggy) regaining the lead after Gerald Mundell and Billy Bond retired from the event when the gearbox on the Class A Prolong BAT failed.
Reigning Class B champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (Rollerbak Racing JRE) also took advantage of the BAT crews' misfortune and have moved into second place in the drivers' championship and the lead in the co-drivers championship respectively.
The scene appears to be set for a Class B team to win the overall Special Vehicle Championship but not if BAT teams Mundell/Bond and Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400 and Sun City 400 winners Gary Bertholdt and Brandon Harcus and the Class B winners on the past three events, Clint Gibson and Mike Brown, have a say in the matter.
Only 35-points separate first and fifth place and based on current form Bertholdt/Harcus and Gibson/Brown could very easily walk away with the overall Special Vehicle Championship title.
Mundell/Bond have a tenuous hold on the Class A lead and are only two points ahead of Bertholdt/Harcus and 17-points ahead of Nissan Dealer 400 and Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 winners Atang Makgekgenene and Mike Stangl (Total SAM Racing Jimco) and 18-points ahead of John Moore and Fred Werner (Shell Connix Chenowth).
Given the unusually high attrition rate in Class A this season there are potentially six crews that could win the class championship.
By contrast the Class B teams have been a model of consistency and the closely fought championship will only be decided at the Carnival City Casino 400. Nel and Taylor/de Chalain are past winners of the championship so it could well be the turn of Clint Gibson and Mike Brown in the Praesidium Financial Services BAT.
The Class S battle has been between newcomers Nick Goslar and Warren Bowie (O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) and Botswana based Mohammed Noor and Mohammed Moultsen (Supa Veg Raceco) who share the championship lead. As in the case of Class B this title will only be decided at the final event of the season.
The championship battle will resume when contenders head for Mpumalanga on October 24 and 25 to compete in the Toyota Dealer 400, which will be run in the Lydenburg area.