Sun City 400 final summary

THIRD VICTORY FOR NISSAN NAVARA FACTORY TEAM Sun City -- It was the same script but with different actors when Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford won the Production Vehicle category on the Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship,...

THIRD VICTORY FOR NISSAN NAVARA FACTORY TEAM

Sun City -- It was the same script but with different actors when Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford won the Production Vehicle category on the Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, yesterday.

It gave the factory Nissan Navara team their third win in a row this season, with Vos and Pitchford coming in ahead of the works Ford Racing Ranger in the hands of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. Third were reigning South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in another factory entered Nissan Navara, who won the first two events of the year in the Western Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal.

"It was hard work," said Vos after a perfect weekend that saw him and Pitchford start from pole position and lead throughout the race. "It was hot and dusty and there were so many potential pitfalls on a tough route that you could not afford to relax for a moment.

"We had a clean run on the prologue and in the race, but that didn't make it any easier."

A Castrol Toyota Hilux and another works Nissan Navara completed the top five. Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin brought the Toyota home ahead of Norwegian driver Ivar Tollefsen and British navigator Quin Evans, with the overseas crew hampered by two punctures on the third of three loops that made up the event.

A second Ford Ranger, the Barloworld/Absolute car driven by reigning Class E champions Manfred Schroeder and Ward Huxtable, now running in the SP Class, finished sixth overall. Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr, in a third factory Ford Ranger, were not so lucky but managed to finish after one of those events where everything went wrong.

A steady drive saw the experienced Andre du Plessis and Johan Knox, in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody, take the Class D honours. They took control when prologue winners Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D) were forced to retire after a promising start to the race.

But the most emotional story of the race belonged to second placed Coetzee Labuscagne in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody. Labuscagne was forced to tackle the race on his own when navigator Johan Gerber had to return to Middelburg on the eve of the race when his house burned down.

Labuscagne then proceeded to roll the car. After that he lost three of the Nissan's five gears but managed to limp home after an eventful day.

After the demise of early leaders Thomas Rundle/Brian Roberts (Barden Tyres Nissan Hardbody), the Class E honours went to Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux, to give them their second win of the season. Second were George and Sharon Barkhuizen, in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux, with Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro third in the factory Ford Racing Ranger.

A trio of Toyotas -- Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Roost Racing Toyota Hilux), Mark and Stuart Moffatt (Bosal Toyota Hilux) and Brian Martin Ockie Fourie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) then came in within minutes of each other. That gave Toyota five of the first six places in Class E.

COX/TER STEGE GIVE NEW MOTORITE BAT MAIDEN VICTORY

Sun City -- Reigning South African champions Alfie Cox and Hennie ter Stege produced a fairytale victory for the Motorite BAT team when they won the Special Vehicle category on the Sun City 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, yesterday.

Cox and ter Stege overcame a poor start position and teething problems on the new Spec 3 BAT to score their first win of the season. Cox and ter Stege, who started from 18th position after a troubled run on the prologue that determined grid positions, were also the third different crew to win this season.

Second were Herman Sullwald and Morne Moller in the Sullwald Transport Zarco, with Polokwane crew Naeem Moosajee and Rayhoon Bodhanya third in the Total Motorsport Jimco. For Moosajee and Bodhanya it was their best ever national result with the pair nursing the car home after blowing the motor eight kilometers from the finish.

"It was a nightmare weekend and I can't believe we pulled off a win," said Cox. "We had overheating problems on the prologue, and a misfire throughout today's race.

"When the car went it went like hell, so there is enormous potential. It was tough going but the result makes it all worthwhile."

Life at the front of the field was also made a little easier by the demise of some fancied crews. Championship leaders Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, hit a rock and broke a control arm early on the first of three loops that made up the route, while Atlas Copco Porter team-mates Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein were sidelined by mechanical gremlins.

Mechanical problems also sidelined Nardus Alberts and Collin Hunter in the Wrapsa BAT, and the father and son combination of Rob and Gareth Wark. A string of fancied Class B runners also fell by the wayside with the event living up to its reputation as one of the toughest on the calendar.

The top five were completed by Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergmann, in the second Motorite BAT, who finished the race with no brakes and Terence Marsh and Pieter Groenewald in the Regent Racing Jimco. A good race for the fledgling Regent team saw Mike Whitehouse and Dean Langton finish sixth.

Another Regent car, crewed by Hendrik and Jan Kraaij came in seventh to win Class B just ahead of KwaZulu-Natal pair Marcus Taylor and Derek Keith in the JRE. For the Kraaij's, in only their second year of off road racing, it was their third Class B win in three outings this season.

Third in Class B went to the de Bruin/Britz combination in the Ruwacon BAT, with veteran Giel Nel and Sandra Labuscagne fourth in the LUK ATE Zarco Truggy. Fifth were Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, after a troubled run.

In a little cameo performance the last two crews among those home before the cut off point were Class S arch rivals Nic Goslar/Richard Carolin (Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco), and championship leaders Richard Schilling and Chris Davies in the Plastotech Aceco. Only minutes separated the two teams with Schilling and Davies losing over an hour fixing all sorts of mechanical problems.

-credit: msa

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alfie Cox , Ian Palmer , Ralph Pitchford , Quin Evans , Duncan Vos