COX/TER STEGE LEAD SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP Three different Special vehicle category winners in as many races and new championship leaders, were a by product of the recent Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the...
COX/TER STEGE LEAD SPECIAL VEHICLE CHAMPIONSHIP
Three different Special vehicle category winners in as many races and new championship leaders, were a by product of the recent Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the Pilanesberg.
Off road legend Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege, in the Motorite BAT, scored their first win of the season to give the new Spec 3 car a win first time out. It was also a win that took Cox and ter Stege, the reigning South African champions, to the top of the overall and Class A championships.
In the overall championship Cox and ter Stege now lead the father and son team of Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, by four points. A non finish on the Sun City 400 hurt the Harpers and they will be looking to bounce back on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race -- an event they won last year -- in Botswana from June 15 to 17.
The Harpers won round two of the championship, the Nissan Hluhluwe 400 in KwaZulu-Natal, and have a three point advantage over Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the second Motorite BAT. Hutchison and Bergmann won the opening event of the season, the Nissan Dealer 400, in the Western Cape.
The top five in the overall championship are completed by former SA champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) and Naeem Moosajee and Rayhoon Bodhanya in the Total Motorsport Jimco. Moosajee and Bodhanya scored their best national result to date when they finished fifth on the Sun City event.
The off road scoring system with different points structures for overall and class results, sees a slight change in the Class A standings. The first three remain the same while Moosajee/Bodhanya move ahead of Variawa/Rousseau.
Three wins in a row have given Hendrik and Jan Kraaij, another father and son combination, a clear lead in Class B. The Regent Racing BAT pair have a healthy 20 point lead over Cape pair Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT.
Consistency is again paying off for veteran former champion Giel Nel. Now partnered by Sandra Labuscagne in the LUK ATE Zarco Truggy, the East Rand driver is third in the Class B stakes and, like the other Class B competitors, will be hoping the law of averages catches up with the Kraaij family in Botswana.
Down in Class S only two crews -- and to make it more interesting they are arch rivals -- have managed to score points so far this season. Two wins and a second on the Sun City 400 have given former SA champion Richard Schilling and Chris Davies, in the Plastotech Aceco, the advantage over Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco.
The Toyota 1000 Desert Race, with a route that has undergone major alterations, represents the halfway mark in the Absa championship. Three different winners in three races is an indication of the highly competitive nature of the series, and indications are that the Botswana race could turn into a crackerjack.
CLOSE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES IN PRODUCTION VEHICLE CATEGORY
Anyone who predicted some tight Production Vehicle category championships would again develop this season in the Absa Off Road Championship, was right on the money.
Just four points separate the first three crews in Class D, and two points separate the first three crews in Class E. The points positions are an indication of the competitive nature of the Absa Off Road series and round four of the championship, the Toyota 1000 Desert Race from June 15 to 17, is going to be hugely important to those with championship aspirations.
Although two wins and a third give reigning South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in the Nissan Navara, a comfortable lead over team-mates Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford in the overall and Super Production Class, there are some tight battles going on behind them. Vos and Pitchford won the Sun City 400 to close within 13 points of Grobler/Jordaan in the overall championship, with the gap down to eight points in the SP Class.
In the overall championship Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin, in the Castrol Toyota Hilux, lead Norwegian driver Ivar Tollefsen and British co-driver Quin Evans, in another factory Nissan Navara, by just one point. In the SP Class anomalies in the off road scoring system see Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr (Ford Racing Ranger) lead Tollefsen/Evans by one point with Cronje/Birkin a further three points in arrears.
The top of the leaderboard in Class D is something of a family affair with Jurie and Andre du Plessis leading Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox by a single point. Both teams are out in BB Auto Nissan Hardbody entries.
Just to make it more interesting Coetzee Labuscagne, after a heroic performance in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody, on the Sun City 400, shares second place. Coetzee was forced to go it alone on the Pilanesberg event after co-driver Johan Gerber was forced to return home when his house burned down on the eve of the event.
With Gerber not scoring any points Tiaan Coen moves into third place in the co-drivers championship. Coen's father, Harold, is fourth on the drivers list with the pair out in a Land Rover.
The Class E title chase has turned into a four-way battle. Ford Racing Ranger crew Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro lead Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) by a single point.
Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie are only a point behind Visser/le Roux, with George and Sharon Barkhuizen (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) only a further three points in arrears. Next best are Kobus van Tonder and Riaan Guelpa (Timefreight Mitsubishi Pajero) who are 23 points behind the Barkhuizen's, and have some ground to make up.
Toyota crews can be expected to make a special effort on a race that has over the years taken on the mantle of the Blue Ribbon event on the Absa Off Road Championship calendar. That will lead to some interesting confrontations, particularly in the SP Class where rival teams will be out to put and end to Nissan's run of three victories in a row.