Weir-Smith/Minnitt ready for campaign

John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt finally got their 2003 SA Off Road Championship -- presented by Absa -- campaign underway with a storming victory in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana recently. Following a dismal start to the season with...

John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt finally got their 2003 SA Off Road Championship -- presented by Absa -- campaign underway with a storming victory in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana recently.

Following a dismal start to the season with engine failures in the Nissan Dealer 400 and the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam pair came from behind to win the Special Vehicle category.

They qualified 12th in the Prologue and had a first day that they would rather forget. Four punctures and gear selection problems caused by a loose grub screw on the gear linkage cost them considerable time and they arrived at the overnight stop in 18th position and 25-minutes behind leaders John Moore and Fred Werner in the Shell Connix Chenowth.

They had a clean run on the final day of the Toyota 1000 Desert Race and systematically carved their way through the field to win by 40-minutes.

There have been three different winners in the Special Vehicle category this season and the championship race is wide open with only 27-points separating Weir-Smith and Minnitt and championship leader Giel Nel in the Luk Africa Truggy.

The forthcoming Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 in the Mafikeng area promises to be an absolute dogfight with the Superteam pair expecting intense competition from Class A championship leaders and Nissan Sugarbelt 400 winners Gerald Mundell and Billy Bond in the Prolong BAT, Nissan Dealer 400 winners Atang Makgekgenene and Mike Stangl in the Total SAM Racing Jimco, a gaggle of BAT's driven by the likes of Mark Corbett, Brandon Harcus and Bevan Bertholdt, Moore and Werner and the two car Nashua Mobile Racing squad of Greg Daus and Archie Rutherford and Terence Marsh and Trevor Ahier.

"Naturally Geoff and I are brimming with confidence after winning the Toyota 1000 Desert Race," said Weir-Smith. "However, we do not underestimate our Class A rivals and race fans can expect a no holds barred battle for overall victory on the Oven Fresh Biscuits 500."

"There are ten Class A cars that can win overall and not even the Class T teams, which is the playground of the factory teams can match the intensity of the competition in Class A," added Weir-Smith.

Nic Goslar and Glen Steyn won Class S on the Nissan Dealer 400 in the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco and were having a good run in Botswana until they collided with the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody of Andre and Jurie du Plessis. The collision caused extensive damage to the front end of the Raceco and they were forced to retire from the race. There were no Class S finishers on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race so Goslar and Steyn's Class S championship lead is protected for the time being.

Class B contenders, father and son Rob and Gareth Wark have been plagued by steering problems on the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam Mighty Mag and have yet to finish a race this season. Technicians have been hard at work since the Toyota 1000 Desert Race trying to find solutions to the problem in time for the next race on July 25-26.

Andre Botha and Beans Heydenrych managed to complete 800km of the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in their Class F O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam Chevrolet before being forced into retirement with a broken starter. This is not normally a problem with a vehicle fitted with a manual transmission but the American built Chevrolet is fitted with an automatic transmission so cannot be push-started. The rookie crew were running second in Class F and 21st overall at the time and were well placed to pick up their first win.

"With representation in four classes the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam is a shining example of privateer participation in the SA Off Road Championship and it is only a matter of time before the Superteam wins four classes on one event," said Botha. "We have the drivers, co-drivers, technicians, vehicles and the resources to do the job and just need lady luck to be on our side to achieve this dream result."

The O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam will be in action on the Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 in the Mafikeng area on July 25-26. The Prologue to determine starting positions for the main event starts at 13:00 on Friday, July 25 and the main event starts at 08:00 on Saturday, July 26 with the first car, hopefully a Superteam entry, expected at the finish at 14:00.

-msa-

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Series Other rally
Drivers John Moore , Mark Corbett