Moreca Ford Caledon 400 race report

Former saloon car ace Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Francois Jordaan scored their third win of the season when they won the Moreca Ford Caledon 400, the penultimate round of this year's MSA Off Road Car Championship, in the Free State over the...

Former saloon car ace Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Francois Jordaan scored their third win of the season when they won the Moreca Ford Caledon 400, the penultimate round of this year's MSA Off Road Car Championship, in the Free State over the weekend.

De Villiers and Jordaan, in the Bankfin Nissan Hardbody, took the overall and Production Vehicle honours in an event dominated by Class T Supertruck entries. Coming in 28 seconds behind the Nissan pair were Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton, in the Team Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser, with Buks Carolin and Hennie Ter Stege third in a Mitsubishi Pajero.

First home in the Special Vehicle category were Greg Daus and Trevor Ormerod, in the Cargo M2 City Raceco, with the pair scoring their maiden national championship victory. Daus and Ormerod were followed home by John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt (O'Hagan's Kopanong Hotel Jimco) with Eastern Cape pair Greg Harvey and Boy Stone third in the Castrol Jimco.

The de Villiers/Jordaan win, Carolin and Ter Stege coming in third and second place for Shumi van Vuuren and Fanie Kotze (Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser) in Class D, sets up a nail biting climax to the season on the final round of the championship in November. The overall drivers and co-drivers championships, as well as the Class T title, will be up for grabs on the Gauteng event.

After trailing team-mates Hannes Grobler/Richard Leeke in the second Bankfin Nissan Hardbody, and the Moreca Ford Ranger of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer for most of the event, de Villiers and Jordaan could be considered a little lucky to come away with the overall win. They will be the first to point out, however, that to win races you have to finish.

Woolridge and Skjoldhammer won the Friday time trial and for most of the event fought a running battle with Grobler and Leeke. The Moreca Ford then picked up two punctures and ran into clutch problems which allowed Grobler and Leeke to move into the lead.

A blown motor, the first engine failure of the year for the Nissan factory team, sidelined Grobler and Leeke and then 20 kilometres from the finish, the Moreca Ford's clutch finally packed in for good. Although slowed by four flat tyres, de Villiers and Jordaan now found themselves in the lead and managed to hold off Reyneke and Houghton, who came up with their best result of the season after a clean run in the Team Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser.

Mechanical woes also put paid to a couple of other Class T starters. Broken rose joints halted progress for Cliff Barker in the Barker Performance Products Land Rover, with a broken starter motor sidelining brothers Paolo and Claudio Piazza-Musso and Scott Abraham in the Vacation Vans Jeep Cherokee who had moved up from 19th at the start to 6th at the midway point.

The Class D win went to Hein Grobler/Gerhard Prinsloo, out in a single cab Valid Value Nissan, ahead of championship leaders van Vuuren and Kotze. Grobler and Prinsloo took control after Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr (Petronas Isuzu) went out with a broken wishbone. Third, after a terrific drive that saw them scythe through the field after starting in 51st position following a disastrous time trial, were Piet Haasbroek and Christo Bosch in a second Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser.

Back in business in Class E in a Toyota Hilux were the Birkin brothers, Andrew and Chris. The reigning Class E champions came in ahead of current championship leaders Manfred Schroeder and Jack Peckham (Moreca Ford), with Botswana crew Philip and Pierre Botha third in another Toyota Hilux.

The other fancied crew in Class E, veteran Springbok Kassie Coetzee and Ockie Fourie (Team Castrol Toyota Condor) were among the crews who did not finish. They were troubled by suspension problems on the time trial, and then ran into gearbox maladies.

The Special Vehicle category was thrown wide open when champion Franz Czepek and Steve Parker (Vee Motors Chenowth) had a coming together with Atang Makgekanene and Mike Stangl in thick dust not long after the start. The incident broke the brake master cylinder on the Chenowth but hasty repairs saw them on their way again. A blown power steering and no brakes forced Czepek and Parker to gradually drop down the pecking order to finally finish fifth in class.

It was cruel luck on Czepek who was looking for a record seventh win on the trot. Czepek and son Franz junior, sitting out the Moreca Ford Caledon 400 because of a back injury have, however, already clinched the Special Vehicle and Class A drivers and co-drivers titles.

That opened the door for Daus and Ormerod to upstage Weir-Smith and Minnitt and Harvey and Stone. The Weir-Smith/Minnitt and Harvey/Stone combinations have performed consistently throughout the season, but could not match Daus and Ormerod for pace in the dry and dusty conditions.

Class B also produced an impressive performance from relative newcomers Gavin Gray and Lynton Kinloch in the Powerflo JRE. A number of fancied Class B runners fell by the wayside, with Gray and Kinloch outlasting veteran Giel Nel, the current Class B championship leader, in the Luk Afrika Truggy.

-morcc-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Steve Park , Giniel de Villiers , Mark Corbett