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ABSA South African Championship 2007 Special-Newssection

This is the single-news section of the special of the ABSA South African Offroad Championship series 2007. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

ABSA 2007: Dramatic Ford Carnival 400 Victory for Woolridge.

Former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, in a factory Ford Racing Ranger, scored a dramatic win on the Ford Carnival City 400 today to deny Nissan a clean sweep in the Production Vehicle category of the Absa Off Road Championship.

Provisional scoring saw Woolridge and Skjoldhammer come in ahead of Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in a works Nissan Navara, and Castrol Toyota Hilux factory pair Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin with just one minute and 43 seconds separating the three crews after 400 kilometres of tough racing. The Ford came in 50 seconds ahead of the Nissan with the Toyota a further 53 seconds in arrears.

The Woolridge/Skjoldhammer win put an end to a seven race winning streak by Nissan this season. The second place for Grobler and Jordaan, however, was enough for Jordaan to clinch this year’s SA co-driver championship ahead of team-mate Ralph Pitchford.

Pitchford sits alongside Duncan Vos, who clinched the driver championship in the penultimate race of the season, and missed two events via overseas commitments. After a troubled event Vos and Pitchford eventually finished fifth to hand the championship to Jordaan.

Fourth place went to Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen and VZ van Zyl in another factory Nissan. It was enough to place Tollefsen third in the driver championship behind Vos and Grobler. A terrific race was won and lost in the last 10 kilometres. Cronje and Birkin were holding off Woolridge and Skjoldhammer when a windscreen washer bottle malfunctioned.

"We went through two mud holes and it was impossible to see out the windscreen," said Cronje. "We had to get out the car to clean the screen and the first time it happened the Ford went past us. When we stopped again Hannes and Francois passed us and for the third time this season a win went out the window." For Woolridge and Skjoldhammer the win was not without its problems. A radio malfunction meant the pair could not communicate and they survived an overheating scare.

"If we could have chosen an event to win, this would have been it," said Woolridge. "It was a win we desperately needed and there were times when Kenny and I wondered if we would ever get it right." Grobler and Jordaan also had problems. A disappointing prologue saw them start 21st and they also drove the last 80 kilometres with a broken gear lever.

The final event of the season also saw championship issued settled in Classes D and E. Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox, in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody took the Class D win ahead of rookies Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock (Toyota Hilux), and the father and son team of Cliff and Louis Weichelt in the Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D.

Third was enough to give the title to the Weichelt’s in a class where there were five or six potential championship winners. They went into the race with a five point lead over Henri and Maurice Zermatten (Ryobi Nissan Hardbody) who were among the race casualties.

The Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux pair of Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux took the Class E honours ahead of the factory Ford Ranger in the hands of Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro. It meant that Peckham took the driver championship ahead of Visser, while le Roux took the co-driver honours ahead of Santoro who lost points when he withdrew halfway through the Amathole 500 because of illness.

2007/12/01 | 05:47 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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