|ABSA 2010: Narrow Production Vehicle prologue win for Team Castrol Toyota.|
Team Castrol Toyota crew Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton snatched the narrowest of Production Vehicle wins on Friday’s Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions for the Human Auto 400 in South Africa.
The penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship sees national motor racing return to the Free State, with Taylor and Houghton finishing just one second ahead of the Barden Nissan Navara crewed by Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr in provisional results. Third were Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1 000 Desert Race winners Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege, in the RFS BMW M3, with only 14 seconds covering the first three cars.
The Rustenburg father and son pairing of Willem and Dana Vos (Vossies Toyota Hilux) were a surprise fourth, with championship leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) rounding out the top five. Visser and Badenhorst lead the second factory Team Castrol Toyota crew of Duncan Vos and Rob Howie by 11 points, with Grobler and ter Stege a further point adrift with tomorrow’s race crucial to all three crews.
Vos and Howie were the big losers today with a persistent misfire dropping them down to eighth place, with the pair a minute and 13 seconds behind their team-mates. The Toyota crew came in behind the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux of Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen, and the Team Ford Ranger TDCi of former South African champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer.
"It was a difficult prologue with fast and slow sections and nothing in between," said Houghton. "You were either in first gear or sixth gear. Finding the route in flat terrain with high grass was also a problem."
There was early drama in Class D when championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) were reclassified and shifted into the premier SP Class. The quickest time then went to Louis Weichelt and Johann Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) who have had a topsy turvy time in what is a new vehicle.
Weichelt and Smalberger came in a minute ahead of Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race winners Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), who are only three points off the pace in the Class D championship. Third quickest were Northern regions championship regulars Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover.
There was also drama in Class E where championship leaders Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable crashed out in the Team Ford Ranger. The KwaZulu-Natal crew had strayed off the route when they hit a ditch with teenager Woolridge picking up a back injury that is likely to keep him out of tomorrow’s race.
The 4x4 Mega World crew of Hein Moolman and JD Wolfaardt led home the Class E contingent with Malcolm Kock/Johan Burger (Toyota Hilux), Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) and Gerald le Roux/Willem Pretorius (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) closely bunched. Labuschagne and Erasmus need a good result to keep alive their championship hopes.
The race start at 08:30 tomorrow at the Windmill Casino complex in Bloemfontein. Entry to the start/finish, the designated service point and spectator areas along the route is free of charge.
2010/10/22 | 15:02 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/FORTUNE