Mmabatho: Event review

Nissan pair dominate O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel 500. Reigning South African champions Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan completely dominated the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel 500, round four of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, which ended in...

Nissan pair dominate O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel 500.

Reigning South African champions Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan completely dominated the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel 500, round four of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, which ended in Mmabatho on Saturday.

The Nissan Hardbody factory crew took the Production Vehicle category honours by a whopping 20 minutes ahead of former champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the works Ford Racing Ranger. It gave de Villiers, a former multiple Bankfin Touring Car champion, and Jordaan their second win of the season, and saw Nissan chalk up their third win in this year's Bankfin Off-Road Championship.

It was much closer in the Special Vehicle category where only 12 seconds separated first time national winners Lawrence and Gerhard du Plessis, in a Mobil Jimco, and Barberspan 500 winner Atang Makgekgenene and Alec Salley in the SAM Racing Jimco. In an ironic twist the du Plessis combination bought their Jimco from Makgekgenene earlier in the week, and proceeded to add a little insult to injury where Makgekgenene is concerned.

At the front of the field the Nissan team lost Toyota 1000 Desert Race winners Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke early on. They were sidelined when a front strut broke, but de Villiers and Jordaan rose to the occasion.

Apart from straying from the route on a couple of occasions, de Villiers and Jordaan had a clear run. What looked, however, to be developing into a tight struggle at the front of the field fizzled out when Woolridge and Skjoldhammer lost all but fourth gear on the final loop.

The other top contenders for overall and Class T honours, Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton, also dropped out on the final loop and suddenly de Villiers and Jordaan were in the clear. Reyneke and Houghton, also former champions, were forced to retire when the right hand ball joint sheered off the axle and left the Team Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser, in only its second event, hors de combat.

Duncan Vos, also a former Bankfin Touring Car Championship star, and Mike Griffiths produced another stunning display in a Nissan Hardbody to take third overall and their second Class D win in a row. The pair also won the class on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, and have leapfrogged up the championship table.

An equally impressive performance in demanding conditions saw reigning champions Manfred Schroder and Jack Peckham take fourth overall and Class E in the factory Ford Racing Ranger. Schroder and Peckham were followed home by Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr, in the Century Property Developments Isuzu KB, who were fifth overall and second in Class D.

Class D competitors also picked up sixth and seventh overall via Hein Grobler and Gerhard Prinsloo, in another factory Nissan Hardbody, and the Zermatten brothers Henri and Maurice, in the Playstation Mitsubishi Pajero. This meant that the big losers in Class D were championship leaders Piet Haasbroek and Christo Bosch in the Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser.

Going into the event Haasbroek and Bosch also led the Production Vehicle overall championship. A broken differential trailing arm, however, put the skids under the Tosca farmers who suffered their first non-finish of the season.

The father and son team of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn, in a Castrol Toyota Hilux, continued their challenge in Class E by finishing second to Schroder and Peckham. The Toyota pair has been consistency personified throughout the season, and has finished every event this year.

Despite running into a myriad of problems that started on the prologue, Paolo Piazza-Musso and Scott Abraham hung in to win Class F in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Jeep. They finished more than three hours after de Villiers and Jordaan, but gave the Superteam its first ever Production Vehicle class win.

Throughout the day there were never more than a few seconds between the du Plessis Jimco and the Makgekgenene/Salley Jimco. On corrected time it was a narrow squeak for the du Plessis combination who became the fourth different crew to win the Special Vehicle category and Class A this season.

Third were the consistent Greg Harvey and Boy Stone in the Castrol Queen Motor Spares Jimco who have now finished every event this season. They were around 11 minutes behind the leaders, but had a similar margin in hand over fourth placed Bodo and Gary Bertholdt in the M and E Glass BAT.

After a steady drive Mark Ferguson and Blackie Swart, in the Drinks Galore Chenowth, were fifth overall with some big guns in Class A falling by the wayside. Among them were Nissan Sugarbelt 400 winners John Weir-Smith and Tony George, in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam BMW Jimco, and Terence Marsh and Trevor Ahier in the Nashua Mobile Racing Raceco.

In one of the bravest drives of the event East Rand driver Willie Prinsloo, in the DFS Ferobrake Mighty Mag, came home fifth overall and first in Class B. Prinsloo, who only has one eye, crossed the finish line with a head gash after being hit by a stone, and had to be helped from the car suffering from dehydration.

Prinsloo came in 12 minutes ahead of Pietermaritzburg crew Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain in the Truck Time YSCO, but was later excluded from the results for deviating from the route when he reported the stone throwing incident to a marshal. The class win went to Taylor and de Chalain with Nashua Mobile Racing pair Warren Claasen and Kim Dixon second in a Radflo and Gerald Mundell third in a Raceco. Reigning Class B champion Giel Nel, in the LUK Afrika Truggy, had a hard time of it and struggled home seventh in class.

There was something of an upset in Class S where Greg Daus, in the Nashua Mobile Raceco saw his winning streak come to an end. After three class wins and an overall win on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, a troublesome weekend for Daus and Archie Rutherford they failed to finish the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel 500.

The win went to Frikkie Botha and Andries Vorster in the Sandton Off-Road Accessories WPP, with Richard Carolin and Geoff Minnitt second in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco. Billy Bond and Anton Lombard, in the Prolong Raceco were third with the pair continuing their consistent form this season.


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Series Other rally
Drivers Giniel de Villiers , Tony George , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos