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ABSA 2009: Production Vehicle leaderboard has familiar look.

After only one event - the Adenco 400 in Darling - the leaderboard in the Production Vehicle category in the South African Absa Off Road Championship has a familiar look about it. The Donaldson Nissan Navara factory crews of Duncan Vos/Ralph Pitchford and Hannes Grobler/Juan Mohr lead the overall and premier SP Class championships after a one/two result in the Western Cape. Vos is the reigning South African driver’s champion and Mohr the current co-driver’s champion.

The two lead Donaldson Nissan crews dominated at the Adenco 400 in Darling with Vos and Pitchford, who was second on the Dakar Rally this year, coming home 41 seconds ahead of the veteran Grobler and Mohr. A Nissan clean sweep of the podium places was ruined when Ivar Tollefsen and Quin Evans picked up a puncture 30 kilometres from the finish, and were passed by the RFS Toyota Hilux crewed by Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst.

Tollefsen/Evans were fourth with Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton completing the top five in the first of the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries. Tollefsen and Evans also finished fourth on the Dakar Rally in a Nissan Navara designed and built in Midrand.

Former driver’s champion Cliff Weichelt and son Louis got their campaign off to a solid start, and gave Toyota one of two class wins on the Adenco 400, when they took Class D in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D. The Weichelt’s had loads of time in hand over Dewald van Breda and Johan du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux D4D), the 2008 Rookies of the Year who have moved up from Class E.

Johan Fouche and Wentzel Pretorius were a brave third in a lone Mitsubishi Colt. The major casualties in Class D were Coetzee Labuscagne and Johan Gerber (Raysonics Nissan Hardbody) who blew a motor in the prologue.

The 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux pair of Deon Venter and Ian Palmer scored their second national championship win to set the early pace in Class E. They overcame a series of suspension and wheel problems to outlast Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling, who were having their first outing in the ex Jack Peckham Ford Ranger now running in Ruwacon racing colours.

Reigning champion Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota) salvaged third place after running into prologue problems. Starting from the back of the field they ground out what could be an important result when points are totted up at the end of the season.

The next event on the calendar is the Eastern Cape 400 which is this year based in Jeffreys Bay. The event will be run on April 17 and 18 and the Algoa Motorsport Club has come up with another tough route.

2009/04/15 | 20:02 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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