|ABSA 2010: Donaldson Prologue provides Magalies 400 sting in the tail.|
A sting in the tail at the end of the season is the best way to describe today’s Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions for the Production Car category at the RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway tomorrow.
Heavy rain during the week turned sections of the route into quagmires and there were one or two surprises. A clean run gave outgoing drivers champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, a one minute and 44 second advantage over young Pretoria crew Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the RFS Toyota Hilux.
Du Plooy and van Vuuren were just five seconds ahead of Free State crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling in the Ruwacon Racing Ford Ranger. Newly crowned Production Vehicle overall champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) and veteran RFS BMW crew Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege.
Although Visser and Badenhorst have clinched the overall championship, there is a chance they could be pipped at the post in the SP Class championship by Grobler and ter Stege. The RFS pair, surprise winners of the Toyota Kalahari 1000 Desert Race, set the same time as George Barkhuizen/David van Wyck (AIM Toyota Hilux) and are six seconds behind Visser/Badenhorst.
Another Free State crew, Pieter Ruthven and Rudi Britz (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) were a solid seventh with Malcolm Koch and Johan Burger rounding out the top eight. Koch and Burger were having their first outing in an SP Class car in the ex Ramon and Maret Bezuidenhout Toyota Hilux.
Among the high profile non finishers were Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer (Team Ford Ranger TDCi) and Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara. The Ford was reduced to three wheels when it hit a gate, while the Nissan went out with a broken shock absorber – but both cars will start tomorrow’s race.
Championship leaders Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (RFS/4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) set the quickest Class D time. With the championship in sight their main aim is to finish the race, and they came in ahead of Cliff Weichelt and Johan Smalberger in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Weichelt, now resident in Australia, is having his first outing of the season. Third fastest were Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover.
Former champion Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable set the pace in Class E in the Team Ford Ranger. The experienced Schroder is standing in for injured teenager Lance Woolridge, whose title hopes were given a boost when closest challengers Pikkie Labuschange and Rikus Erasmus (RFS/4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) dropped out with gearbox problems.
A second RFS/4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux in the hands of Hein Moolman and JD Wolfaardt was second and trailed the Ford by nearly two minutes. Third were another Ford Ranger crew, Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius, in the Ruwacon Racing entry.
Tomorrow’s race starts at 08h30 with the start/finish and designated service crew all at Tarlton International Raceway. Public access to Tarlton and spectator points along the route is free of charge.
2010/11/20 | 12:48 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE