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ABSA 2009: Vos/Pitchford set early pace in Production V-Category.

Reigning South African champion Duncan Vos and Ralph Pitchford have snatched the early advantage in the overall and SP Class championships in this year’s South African Absa Off Road Championship. Two wins in two outings - the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape 400 - have given the Donaldson Nissan Navara factory crew a flying start to the year. With a huge early advantage the chasing pack are going to find it difficult to haul in Vos and Pitchford.

A second Donaldson Nissan Navara crew lead those doing the chasing. Norwegian Ivar Tollefsen and Briton Quin Evans, fourth on the Dakar Rally this year, have a one point advantage over Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst who have made a solid start to the season in the RFS Toyota Hilux.

A third Donaldson Nissan crew, veteran Hannes Grobler and reigning co-drivers champion Juan Mohr, share fourth place with Thomas Rundle and Hennie ter Stege who made an impressive debut in the factory Ford Racing Ranger on the Eastern Cape 400. Fifth are Class E leaders Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) who have also started the season with two wins.

In the SP Class scoring Vos and Pitchford lead Tollefsen/Evans and Visser/Badenhorst with Grobler/Mohr and Rundle / ter Stege joined in fourth place by Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Hein Lategan and Chris Birkin.

The father and son combination of Cliff and Louis Weichelt (N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D) also have two wins in two outings to their name, and that has taken them to the top of the Class D standings. Their closest challengers at this stage are last year’s top rookies Dewald van Breda and Johan du Toit in the Northam Toyota Hilux D4D.

Johan Fouche and Wentzel Pretorius (Mitsubishi Colt) and newcomer Heinie Strumpher and Jan Hendrik van der Linde (Micaren Exel Toyota Hilux) share third place. Strumpher and van der Linde scored their first national points on the Eastern Cape 400.

Venter and Palmer have a commanding lead in Class E with two crews - Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Racing Ford Ranger) and Pikkie Labuschange/Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) - tied for second place. Two crews, reigning champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux (RFS Toyota Hilux) and Baphumze Rubuluza/ Khuliele Vakaliza (Ford Racing Ranger), are also tied for third place.

The next event on the calendar is the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu-Natal on May 15 and 16.

2009/04/27 | 13:58 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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