Mpumalanga 1000 leg two summary

COX/PITCHFORD RETAIN TOYOTA DEALER 1000 LEAD Overnight leaders Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford, in the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody, were still out in front of the field but not yet out of the woods after day two of the Toyota Dealer...

COX/PITCHFORD RETAIN TOYOTA DEALER 1000 LEAD

Overnight leaders Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford, in the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody, were still out in front of the field but not yet out of the woods after day two of the Toyota Dealer 1000, penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, in Lydenburg today.

Cox and Pitchford were just eight minutes ahead of the Castrol Toyota Hilux 2,7i in the hands of Class D leaders Paolo Pizza-Musso and Ockie Fourie after a tough day on an event that is being observed by the FIA, the world controlling body for motorsport, for possible inclusion in next year's FIA Cross Country World Cup. On paper an eight minute lead looks comfortable enough, but with around 370 kilometres remaining on the final day tomorrow, a puncture or mechanical niggles could yet spell trouble for motorcycle legend Cox and Pitchford.

Provisional results at the end of day two put Clint Gibson and Marcelle Trethewey, in the BAT Chevy, in third place and first in the Special Vehicle category and in Class A. They were followed by a trio of Production Vehicles with Class E leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux, holding off Gavin Cronje/Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i) and Manfred Schroeder/Alec Harris (Ford Racing Ranger) with just 20 seconds separating the two Class D entries.

Seventh and eighth overall were Nick and Ryan Harper (BAT Audi) and Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rosseau (BAT Nissan) who were second and third respectively in Class A. The top 10 were rounded out by Henri Zermatten/Bodo Schwegler (Master Craft Ryobi Mitsubishi Pajero), another Production Vehicle crew running in Class D, and Special Vehicle pair Evan Hutchison and Vincent Horn who were leading Class B in the Motorite BAT Nissan.

While Cox and Pitchford were soldiering on without any major problems, it turned out to be an interesting days for some of those doing the chasing. Piazza-Musso and Fourie ran into brake problems, a puncture early on and then broke a shock absorber which slowed them.

Cronje and Houghton strayed from the route on a couple of occasions and then 600 metres from the finish for the day the gearbox broke. The gearbox and clutch were replaced at the final service point, and the pair will tomorrow resume what is a terrific battle with Schroeder and Harris who had a clean run.

Visser and Badenhorst had done a sterling job in the Class E entry, and are more than half an hour ahead of their nearest challengers. It was the end of the road, however, for Class E championship leaders Zane Pearce and Hennie Vosloo (Castrol Toyota Hilux) who retired with mechanical problems.

In the Special Vehicle category Gibson and Trethewey held an eight minute lead over the Harper father and son combination, with both crews reporting clean runs. Overnight leaders Gerhard du Plessis and Ferdi Seegers (Jimco) retired early in the day when they hit a rock and broke the suspension, while Bertholdt and Rosseau were "constantly lost" and highly critical of the route marking.

Bertholdt's brother, Bevan, and Nick Selemolela (iBurst BAT) had an even more adventurous time of it. They had two punctures after the Dullstroom service point, and borrowed a spare tyre from Hutchinson and Horn - on the proviso they stayed behind the Motorite pair.

The inevitable happened and Hutchison and Horn then had a puncture and reclaimed their spare. Bertholdt and Selemolela then borrowed another spare from championship leaders Terence Marsh and Mike Whitfield in the Nashua Mobile BAT.

The Class F battle in the Production Vehicle category was all but settled when Andre Botha/Richard Carolin retired the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Chevy with a blown motor. That left the Moffat brothers, Mark and Stuart, high and dry in the Bosal Land Rover.

The Class S fight in the Special Vehicle category is also all but settled. Here Nardus Alberts and Collin Hunter (Wrapsa Aceco) have nearly 50 minutes in hand over Naeem Moosajee and Moti Naazim in a Mighty Mag.

The final section of the event starts in Lydenburg at 07h00 tomorrow, with the first car expected back at the finish at 13H30.

-msa-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ralph Pitchford