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ABSA 2009: Nissan Trio tops in Production Vehicle Championship.

Donaldson Nissan Navara crews made a clean sweep of the top three places in the Production Vehicle overall title chase in this year’s Absa Off Road Championship. Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford, Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen and Briton Quin Evans and veteran Hannes Grobler and Juan Mohr filled the top three places. The Nissan squad scored six wins during the season with five of them going to Vos/Pitchford and the remaining victory to Grobler, who said goodbye to Nissan after 33 years, and Mohr.

Second place on the RFS Magalies 400, the final event of the season, saw Grobler sneak in ahead of Gary Bertholdt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) by a single point in the driver’s championship. Tollefsen and Evans were also the only crew in the Production Vehicle category to go through the season with a 100 percent finish record.

In the SP Class championship there was a slight change with anomalies in off road scoring coming into play. While the order among the co-drivers stayed the same, this time around it was Bertholdt who finished a single point ahead of Grobler in the driver stakes. Andre Vermeulen, who normally sat alongside Bertholdt, missed one event during the season. Bertholdt and Vermeulen made history, however, when victory on the Highveld 400 saw them become the first privateer team to win an event in the SP Class era.

The RFS Magalies 400 event saw Toyota clinch the South African Manufacturer’s Championship ahead of Nissan and Ford. Toyota teams also wrapped up the Class D and Class E titles. In Class D a third on the RFS event was enough to see home Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit in the Northam Toyota Hilux D4D. The Potchefstroom pair won the Rookies of the Year award in 2008 and moved up a class this year.

Second in the driver championship went to 2008 champion Cliff Weichelt who, with Johann Smalberger, won the RFS Magalies 400 in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D. Third was Coetzee Labuscagne with the former Blue Bull scrum-half’s navigator, Johan Gerber, second in the co-driver championship.

Gerber, who has now retired, moved ahead of Louis Weichelt after the last event. The younger Weichelt accompanied his father in the early part of the season and then switched to a driving role in the N1 4x4 Ford Ranger with Maret Bezuidenhout.

A single point separated the top two teams in Class E with defending champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux) sneaking home despite failing to finish the final event. Visser/le Roux edged out Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) who took their third win of the season at the RFS Magalies event.

Third in the championship were Deon Venter and Ian Palmer, in the second 4x4 Megaworld Toyota, who took two wins during the season. Track star Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie (Ferodo Nissan Hardbody) also took two wins with Visser/le Roux taking the other victory.

2009/11/20 | 14:12 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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