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ABSA 2009: Vos/Pitchford dominate Production Car Prologue

South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford dominated the Production Car prologue for the RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway some weeks before. The prologue determines start positions for tomorrow’s race with Vos and Pitchford, in the Donaldson Nissan Navara, cruising to a 23 second advantage in provisional results on the fast and tricky 70 kilometre prologue. It was a result that gives the pair, in search of the fifth victory of the season, an early psychological advantage.

Vos and Pitchford had a clear run to also head up the premier SP Class. Behind them, however, it was close with just 29 seconds separating the next four cars. Second fastest were Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the RFS Toyota Hilux. Hot on their heels were Highveld 400 winners Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Hugo and Jaap de Bruyn in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux and Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin in the first on the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries.

Punctures, mechanical niggles and wrong slots delayed other fancied crews, among them Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton (Castrol Toyota Hilux), who will start sixth. Other victims were Hannes Grobler/Juan Mohr (Donaldson Nissan Navara), Ivar Tollefsen/Quin Evans (Donaldson Nissan Navara) and the turbo diesel Ford Racing Ranger of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer.

Next stage is Grobler’s last outing in a Nissan after a 33 year association with the Rosslyn based company. There was drama in Class D when championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux D4D) failed to finish the prologue. That relegates them to the mass start at the back of the grid and is a massive blow for van Breda who is fighting for the driver title with reigning champion Cliff Weichelt in the N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D.

Weichelt, who trails van Breda by eight points in the championship, and Johann Smalberger set the fastest time followed by Johan and Werner Horn in the Malelane Toyota Land cruiser. Third fastest went to Heine Strumpher and Henri Hugo in the Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux.

Track start Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie set the fastest time in Class E with Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus not far behind in the 4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux. Former champion Manfred Schroder and Gavan Gray were third in their first outing this season in the factory Ford Ranger.

Reigning champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, who only have to finish to ensure back to back titles, were fourth.

The race starts tomorrow at 08h00 with the start/finish and designated service area all at Tarlton International Raceway just outside Krugersdorp. There are a number of excellent spectator areas within easy reach of Tarlton with access to these areas free of charge.

2009/11/19 | 12:23 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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