Polokwane: Series event summary

TWO IN A ROW FOR GROBLER/MOHR Polokwane, Saturday - Veteran Former South African champion Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr made it two wins in a row with a narrow victory on the Limpopo 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended...

TWO IN A ROW FOR GROBLER/MOHR

Polokwane, Saturday - Veteran Former South African champion Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr made it two wins in a row with a narrow victory on the Limpopo 400, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.

Provisional results gave the Sasol Nissan Navara crew a win by two minutes and 15 seconds over the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux pair of Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn. Third, a further eight minutes in arrears were Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the factory Ford Racing Ranger.

Late problems, with both teams hit by suspension failure, saw Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin and reigning South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford, in a second Sasol Nissan Navara, drop out of contention and complete the top five. Cronje and Birkin limped home in fourth place after breaking a front shock absorber 30 kilometres from the finish, while Vos and Pitchford lost 18 minutes repairing a shock absorber problem and a broken brake pipe.

Also in the wars were Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton in a second factory Castrol Toyota Hilux. After a storming start to the race they were forced out at the halfway mark with a blown head gasket.

The results set up a tremendous finale to the season with only two events left. Unofficial scoring sees Vos now leading the overall and SP championships with 106 points with Woolridge close on his heels on 102 points, with Grobler third with 93 points.

"We spent most of the day in other people's dust," said Grobler. "It was a tough and difficult race but we never had any problems with the vehicle.

"The championship position is interesting and there is going to be a lot of pressure at the last two races."

The de Bruyn's, after a disappointing prologue, came good in the race and reported a trouble free run. Woolridge and Skjoldhammer were plagued by a misfire that came and went throughout the race, but perseverance paid off and keeps them in the championship hunt.

Nissan's day, however, got off to a bad start. Team manager Glyn Hall, standing in for Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen in a third Sasol Nissan Navara, surprised everyone by setting the second quickest time in the prologue, but went out within eight kilometres of the start.

Hall, a former South African rally champion who was partnered by Briton Quin Evans, hit a donga and injured his back. He was taken to a hospital in Polokwane and later released with a broken vertebrae injury.

The Zermatten brothers, Henri and Maurice, dominated Class D in the Ryobi Nissan. A gearbox problem which was a cause for concern before the prologue was sorted out, and the pair reported no problems during the race.

Second were Ramon Bezuidenhout and wife Maret in a Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux. High profile casualties were reigning drivers champion Cliff Weichelt and Nico Els in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D.

Down in Class E the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux pair of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer scored a maiden win. They came home just over six minutes ahead of the Potch Plastics Toyota Hilux in the hands of Dewald van Breda and Johan du Toit.

Championship leaders Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux cemented their hold on the championship with a solid third place. With reigning drivers champion Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro retiring the Ford Racing Ranger with a broken clutch, Visser/le Roux are in control of Class E.

BERTHOLDT/VERMEULEN WIN SPECIAL VEHICLE CATEGORY ON LIMPOPO 400

Polokwane, Saturday - Gary Bertholdt scored his second Limpopo 400 win in three years when he and Andre Vermeulen brushed aside the opposition to take a convincing win in round six of the Absa Off Road Championship which ended here today.

The Atlas Copco Porter pair came in around four and a half minutes ahead of former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Total Porter, to score their second win of the season. Bertholdt, then partnered by Henry Kirstein, also won this race in 2006.

Both Bertholdt/Vermeulen and Variawa/ Rousseau reported clean runs on a route that turned out to be tougher than expected. There was a further boost for the Atlas Copco team when Nick and Ryan Harper, in a BAT, took the remaining podium position.

"We had a clean run but Shameer and Nick gave us a run for our money," said a delighted Bertholdt. "It was a difficult route and a very tough race but we managed to keep it together and not make any costly mistakes."

Fourth, after a disappointing prologue, were overall and Class A championship leaders Karl-Heinz and Quintin Sullwald, in the Sullwald Racing BAT, who stormed their way through the field. There was also a good result for unheralded John Moore and Tom Classen, who were fifth in the Free Spirit, with Terence Marsh and Pieter Groenewald (Regent Racing BAT) following them home in sixth place.

With the Sullwald's, Variawa/Rousseau and Marsh/Groenewald all finishing in the points the overall and Class A championships remain a three horse race. With just two races left it is going to be a tense finish to the season.

"All we wanted was a place on the podium," said Variawa who had won the last two races. "A third win wasn't all that important and we were looking after our championship hopes this weekend."

For reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite BAT, it was another miserable weekend. They picked up their fifth non finish when alternator problems put them out of action.

Class B was won by reigning SA champion Hendrik Kraaij and Tiddo Voogt in the Keymax BAT. They were a comfortable seven minutes clear of Free State crew Louw de Bruin and Rudi Britz in the Ruwacon BAT.

A further five minutes in arrears were Cape Town crew Bes Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn in the Adenco BAT. Also in the points were veterans Giel Nel and Deon de Kock (Luk Africa Zarco Truggy) who started the day lying second in the championship. Brothers David Gary White, in the Ruwacon BAT, dominated Class P. They came in around 20 minutes ahead of the Bezuidenhout brothers, Johan and Etienne, in the Adenco BAT.

Among those to fall by the wayside were KZN pair Don Thompson and Don Blakey (Zarco) who started the day level on points with the Bezuidenhout's at the top of the championship. They went out with a damaged engine after the motor sucked in water at a river crossing.

Also among the retirements were reigning Class S champions Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Aceco) and veterans Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin in the Men's Health International Zarco.

-credit: saorc

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers John Moore , Ian Palmer , Ralph Pitchford , Quin Evans , Duncan Vos