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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: Six out of six for Nissan at Ford Motorite 400

Nissan made it six out of six when reigning South African champions Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, in a works Nissan Navara, completely dominated the Production Vehicle category on the Ford Motorite 400 in South Africa. The event was round six of the Absa Off Road Championship with a third victory this season for Grobler and Jordaan giving Nissan a perfect six wins out of six events so far this season. The other three wins have gone to Duncan Vos who has won twice with Ralph Pitchford doing the co-driving and once with Richard Leeke in the hot seat.

There was further happiness in the Nissan camp when Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen and Briton Quin Evans, in another factory Nissan Navara, finished second overall and in the Super Production Class. Tollefsen and Evans won the recent African Heritage FIA World Cup event in the Eastern Cape, but were around 12 minutes adrift of Grobler and Jordaan who were in irresistible form.

Third went to former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in a factory Ford Racing Ranger. They were around seven minutes adrift of Tollefsen and Quinn with Bevan Bertholdt and Robin Houghton, in a Castrol Toyota Hilux, scoring their first point of the season with a hard earned fourth place. "That was hard work," said Grobler. "We really had to concentrate to keep it all together and Francois did a great job on a route where it was easy to get lost or fall into a donga."

The win also put Grobler and Jordaan firmly back in the championship race with the pressure on Vos and Pitchford with two events left on the calendar. Vos, again paired with Leeke this time out, had a tough weekend and had to be content with a disappointing fifth place.

There was also disappointment for Brandon Harcus/Marcelle Trethewey in another factory Ford Racing Ranger, Mark/Cronje/Chris Birkin and Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst in Castrol Toyota Hilux and Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux. Harcus and Trethewey failed to start because of engine problems that developed on the Friday prologue, while Cronje/Birkin were running strongly when they lost a wheel in a huge ditch.

Visser and Badenhorst, surprise winners of the prologue, and the de Bruyn’s ran into shock absorber and differential problems. Both teams lost wads of time and dropped out of contention.

Further down the field Cliff and Louis Weichelt, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux 4D4, bounced back to form with a narrow Class D win. They edged out local crew Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox, in a BB Auto Nissan Hardbody, with Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber third in the Raysonics Nissan Hardbody.

There wasn’t much between the three crews after the first of two 200 kilometre loops. On the final loop, however, the Weichelt’s took five minutes off du Plessis and Knox and eight minutes off Labuscagne/Gerber.

Fourth went to Ramon Bezuidenhout and Stefan Lock in a Toyota Hilux. They lost time when the sportingly stopped to help the de Bruyn’s and Vos/Leeke and were eventually more than 15 minutes off the pace.

There was also a good scrap in Class E where drivers championship leader Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro, in the Ford Racing Ranger, held off a late challenge from George and Sharon Barkhuizen in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux. The Barkhuizen’s took five minutes off the Ford pair on the final loop, but 28 seconds adrift at the finish.

Third went to Mark and Stuart Moffat, in the Bosal Toyota Hilux, who picked up their best result of the season. They were 23 minutes adrift of the Barkhuizen’s while Brian Martin and Ockie Fourie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) had a weekend to forget with a myriad of problems descending on the pair.

2007/09/13 | 11:01 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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