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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

ABSA 2009: Nissan back to winning ways on Toyota Dealer 400.

The Donaldson Nissan Navara team got back to winning ways last weekend when South African champions Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford won a thrilling SP Class battle in the Production Vehicle category at the Toyota Dealer 400. Nissan were beaten for the first time in six outings last time out at the Highveld 400, but bounced back in fine style with Vos and Pitchford scoring their fifth win of the season. In the closest finish of the year the Nissan pair were only 24 seconds ahead of Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin.

Third were Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans, in a second Donaldson Nissan Navara, with Anthony Taylor/Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux) and Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr, in a third Donaldson Nissan Navara, fourth and fifth respectively. The top eight were rounded out by the factory diesel Ford Racing Ranger of Neil Woolridge/Kenny Skjoldhammer, the SP Laser Nissan Navara of Alfie Cox/Jurgen Schroder and the RFS Toyota Hilux of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst.

In the closest finish anyone can remember in the SP Class era, the top eight cars were covered by less than six minutes. "That was a race," enthused Vos with the Nissan star and Pitchford already crowned this year’s overall champions. "The pressure was on from the word go and we had to concentrate for every second. "Ralph and I were a little lucky in that we had a clean run with no punctures and minor niggles to hamper us."

The unlucky crew were Taylor and Houghton who won the Friday prologue to determine race start positions. They started 46 seconds ahead of the three Donaldson Nissans but quickly lost the lead when they picked up a puncture.

Then, on the last of the three laps that made up the race, Taylor and Houghton were right on the tail of Vos and Pitchford. A determined effort to get past the Nissan ended when the Toyota picked up another puncture. "It was a final fling from us on a rocky section with no dust," said Taylor. "The second puncture was the end. "After changing the wheel we could not get the car started and that dropped us further back." Lategan and Birkin mounted a late challenge that momentarily raised Toyota hopes. But they were to run out of race distance in what was their best performance of the season.

There was also a tight finish in Class D where Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit, in the Northam Toyota Hilux D4D, finished just 14 seconds ahead of local Mpumalanga crew Johan and Werner Horn in the Malelane Toyota Land Cruiser. The win saw van Breda and du Toit move a step closer to the Class D championship.

Third were Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) with early championship leader Cliff Weichelt, now partnered by Johann Smalberger in the 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D, salvaging valuable driver championship points with fourth place.

There were only two classified finishers in Class E with Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie, in the Ferodo Nissan Hardbody, finishing one minute ahead of reigning champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the RFS Toyota Hilux. With the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux entries of Deon Venter/Ian Palmer falling by the wayside, Visser and le Roux move into the championship lead with one event to go.

2009/10/09 | 18:42 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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