Top class entry for Sun City 400

Sixty-eight teams have entered for this weekend's Sun City 400, round six of the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship...presented by Absa. The Special Vehicle brigade account for thirty-seven entries of which fifteen are in the highly competitive...

Sixty-eight teams have entered for this weekend's Sun City 400, round six of the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship...presented by Absa. The Special Vehicle brigade account for thirty-seven entries of which fifteen are in the highly competitive Class A for unlimited space frame vehicles while thirty-one Production Vehicles have entered with the Class D contenders leading the way with twelve entries.

The presence of Belgian Gregoire de Mevius who is a two times former FIA World Group N Rally Champion and one of three drivers in the New Dimension X-Raid BMW team that made its debut on this year's Dakar will add spice to the battle between the locally designed and built BAT vehicles and a host of American imports. De Mevius is paired with 'VZ' van Zyl in the Adrenalise Corporate Entertainment Audi V8 powered BAT and his local debut will be watched with great interest.

Thirteen crews have entered in Class B for unlimited space frame vehicles, powered by 2 liter four cylinder engines, and here too it's a case of BAT versus the rest with Clint Gibson and Mike Brown in the Praesidium Financial Services BAT aiming for a third successive class win. The likes of championship leader Giel Nel (LUK Africa Truggy) and reigning Class B champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (Rollerbak Racing JRE) will have their work cut out trying to beat Gibson.

Class S for unlimited space frame vehicles with trailing arm front suspensions boasts seven entries. Regulars like Nic Goslar and Warren Bowie (O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) and Mohammed Noor and Mohammed Moultsen (Supa Veg Raceco) can expect a stiff challenge from veterans Richard Schilling and Ashley Thorn (Plastotech Raceco) and Nardus Alberts and Colin Hunter (Raceco) who will be making a rare appearance.

The Production Vehicle category promises to be a dogfight between the factory Ford, Nissan and Toyota teams in Class T.

Giniel de Villiers will be buoyed by the announcement this week that he has been contracted to join the four-car Team Nissan squad that will compete in Dakar 2004 and he and co-driver Francois Jordaan will be hoping to capitalise on their victory on the recent Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400.

Proudly South African Nissan team mates Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke lead the Production Vehicle championship and will want to amass as many points as possible to keep championship contenders Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin in the Class E Castrol Toyota Hilux 2700i at bay while reigning Production Vehicle champions Duncan Vos and Mike Griffith will be out to score a maiden Class T win.

Neil Woolridge and Ken Skjoldhammer are confident that the Team Ford Racing Ranger has what it takes to break the Nissan stranglehold while Castrol Toyota pair Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton is satisfied that the handling problems on the Land Cruiser have been sorted out and that they too can mount a strong challenge to beat the Nissans.

Six Nissan Hardbody pick-ups have been entered in Class D for 6-cylinder production vehicles with limited modifications. The four car GBS Nissan team has the potential to dominate but has been plagued by suspension problems of late but despite this Hein Grobler and Gerhard Prinsloo only trail Class D championship leaders Johan and Marthinus van der Merwe (Chavani Colt Rodeo) by four points.

Toyota's hopes lie with Piet Haasbroek and Freddie Scheepers (Castrol Toyota Land Cruiser) who have had a season fraught with drive train problems and Class D winners on the Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400, Cliff and Louis Weichelt in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Nine teams have entered in Class E, which is a three-way fight between Ford, Nissan and Toyota. Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2700i) have been dominant and are second in the overall championship and lead Class B by the proverbial mile. Ford's hopes lie with former Class E champions Manfred Schroder and Jack Peckham and Zane Pearce and Hennie Vosloo in the diesel powered Ford Rangers while husband and wife Neels and Zelda van der Walt and brothers Jurie and Andre du Plessis spearhead the Nissan challenge.

The Sun City 400 gets underway with a 40km Prologue on Friday at 13:00 and the main event, which comprises three laps of a 130km course in the Pilanesberg area, starts at 08:00 on Saturday. The organisers have laid out a spectator-friendly route and there are numerous vantage points from which to view the action.

-msa-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Mike Brown , Giniel de Villiers , Gregoire de Mevius , Duncan Vos