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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: Motorite BAT Teams seek second win on Nissan Hluhluwe 400.

A new playground on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast will add a little zest to the Special Vehicle category on the Nissan Hluhluwe 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, on April 13 and 14. The event, formerly the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 based at Eston on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, breaks new ground for the off road series. The route is likely to be a little more varied and a little quicker than its predecessor, but the racing will be just as competitive.

On this score the Motorite BAT crews of Evan Hutchison/Achim Bergman and reigning champions Alfie Cox/Hennie ter Steege, will be looking for a repeat of the one/two result that got their season off to a flyer in round one of the Absa Off Road Championship in the Western Cape. There is little doubt the Motorite pair will again be among the frontrunners, but there is no shortage of potential winners.

Nick and Ryan Harper (Atlas Copco BAT) fall into that category after their third place in the Nissan Dealer 400, as do former champions Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) and Karl Heinz Sullwald/Paul Helberg (Sullwald Transport Zarco) after encouraging starts to the season. And, if they can add reliability to undoubted pace and talent, Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein will be a major threat in the Atlas Copco Porter.

Crews like former champion Terence Marsh and Pieter Groenewald (Nashua Mobile BAT), Nardus Alberts and Colin Hunter (Wrapsa BAT), local Clint Gibson and Mike Brown (Absolute BAT) and Rob and Gareth Wark, in the Superpave BAT, are also among potential winners. They will all fancy their chances and new territory means a level playing ground.

A new Class A crew will be closely watched. The father and son team of Claus and Fritz Etzel, in a BAT, have put together an impressive record in KZN regional events, and their debut on the national stage will elicit plenty of interest. On the Class B front Jan and Hendrik Kraaij (Keymax BAT) were among the finds of 2006 and their win in the Western Cape earmarks them as title challengers. Again, however, there is no shortage of opposition.

Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout and Bes Bezuidenhout and Johan de Bruyn, with both crews out in Adenco BAT entries, are more often than not there or thereabouts. The same applies to Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) with Rudi and Pierre van Graan also threats in the Technochair Zarco.

Veteran former champion Giel Nel, partnered by Sandra Labuscagne in the Bosal Zarco, just keeps going and Marius van Vuuren/William Elliott in the Bosal Zarco are also a threat. Walter du Plessis, in the singleseater Maxi Mag cannot be ruled out and local crews Alistair Stubbs/Marc de Chalain (Viper) and Marcus Taylor/Derek Keith (JRE) will want to impress.

Down in Class S Richard Schilling and Chris Davies (Plastotech Aceco) got their season of to a convincing start by being the only crew to see out the distance in the Western Cape. That puts pressure on reigning drivers champion Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin, in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, Glen Gibson in the Absolute Raceco and Naazim Moti and Feroze Doodha in the Tyre Rack Raceco.

A good battle is on the cards. Schilling and Davies, however, have been around the block a time or two, and vast experience is a trump card where they are concerned.

2007/04/05 | 14:09 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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