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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: Factory Nissan Teams dominate Sun City 400 prologue.

A pair of factory Nissan Navara crews dominated the Production Vehicle category in Friday’s prologue to determine start positions for the Sun City 400, round three of the South African ABSA Off Road Championship. Former South African champions Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford set the fastest time of the day to secure pole position for a race that looks set to be highly competitive. Vos and Pitchford edged out - by just 11 seconds - reigning South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan to top both the Production Vehicle category and the Super Production Class.

Grobler and Jordaan have won both championship events run to date. This has taken them to the top of this year’s championship, and the two Nissan crews will be the target for other SP Class challengers.

Two Ford Rangers and a Toyota Hilux, all running in the SP Class, completed the top five. Manfred Schroeder/Ward Huxtable (Barlworld/Absoloute Ford Ranger), the reigning Class E champions, edged out Mark Cronje/Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux) and former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the factory Ford Racing Ranger.

There were only seven seconds between Schroeder/Huxtable and the Cronje/Birkin entry, with the second Ford a further half minute in arrears. Further back Mark Corbett/Rudy Balzar (Century Property Development Nissan Navara) and Brandon Harcus/Juan Mohr (Ford Racing Ranger) ran into minor problems with Bevan Bertholdt/Robin Houghton, in the second factory Toyota Hilux, slowed by overheating problems.

The father and son combination of Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D) were fastest of the Class D brigade - but were only seven seconds ahead of Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody. Third fastest were Andre and Jurie du Plessis in the BB Auto Nissan Hardbody.

The Weichelt’s missed the last event because of what appeared to be a mysterious electrical fault. This turned out to be an air filter problem and there were smiles all round in the Bosal Toyota camp.

Not so lucky were Henri and Maurice Zermatten in the Ryobi Nissan Hardbody who will start from the back of the field after missing the prologue. They blew a gearbox on the dyno tuner while preparing the vehicle, and were busy fitting a replacement - hastily purloined off the Nissan assembly line in Rosslyn.

Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in a Toyota Hilux, were quickest of the Class E contingent. They were 23 seconds ahead of Thomas Rundle and Brian Roberts, in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Hardbody, with Kobus van Tonder/Riaan Guelpa (Timefreight Mitsubishi Pajero) in third place ahead of a horde of Toyota Hilux entries.

The route for the prologue turned out to be rougher than many crews expected, and there was general agreement they are in for a tough time of it during the race. Matters won’t be made any easier by dust and late autumn heat in the Pilanesberg.

The race will be run over three loops with the first car scheduled to start at 07h30. The first two loops of the race will be run over 80 kilometres with a final loop of 120 kilometres.

2007/05/13 | 14:02 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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