|ABSA 2010: New cars boost at South African Toyota Dealer 400 Rally.|
The return of Ford and new cars in the pipeline will provide an extra shot in the arm for the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, in Lydenburg on April 16 and 17. Ford missed the opening round of the series, the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape, after delays in obtaining parts from overseas and lack of testing. Ford Racing will, however, field two cars in the Production Vehicle category on the Mpumalanga event.
Veteran former champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer will be out in a Ford Ranger in the premier SP Class, with Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in a Ford Ranger in Class E. The Woolridge’s provide another father/son combination to an already long list of family tiers in off road racing.
The Ford challenge will further be boosted by a new Ford Ranger for Harrismith-based stalwart Kobus van Tonder. The new vehicle could not be finished in time for the Western Cape event, and van Tonder and son-in-law Freddie Kriel ran the Uni Freight team’s older model.
It is also expected that the new RFS BMW X3 for former SA champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege will be ready for the Toyota Dealer 400. The pair finished third on the Adenco 400 in the RFS Toyota Hilux.
Nissan’s challenge will also be boosted with Thomas Rundle and former South African co-driver’s champion Juan Mohr out in the ex Vos/Pitchford Donaldson Nissan Navara. Rundle last year competed in one of two Ford Racing entries. In the long term Team Castrol Toyota are building two new double cab Toyota Hilux models that are expected to make a mid season appearance.
One new Super D Class vehicles is expected to make its debuts at the Toyota Dealer 400, with two more vehicles in the pipeline for the Sugarbelt 400. Reigning champions Dewald van Breda and Johan Du Toit (Northam Toyota D4D) will be at the Toyota race with Cliff Weichelt/Johann Smalberger and Louise Weichelt and Francis Boersma set to join the series at the Sugarbelt 400 in Kwa Zulu Natal.
"We could not get the car finished in time for the Adenco, but it will be ready for the Toyota Dealer," said van Breda. The champions started their season on a high note with a win in the Western Cape.
On the Special Vehicle front former South African champion Kallie Sullwald will return to action in a completely rebuilt BAT Spec 4. The Phalaborwa pair has been out of action since the latter part of last season with the younger Sullwald involved with university exams.
Former SA champion John Weir-Smith is also set to return to the fray in a new Zarco Challenger being built by Hendrik Fourie. The car will run a five litre V10 BMW engine and, if the team win a race against time, could make its debut on the Lydenburg event.
On the organisational front race director Adri Roets said it was all systems go. Route surveys have been completed with no significant changes to the course. "Bringing the race forward by six months provided us with a challenge," said Roets, "but it has all gone smoothly. We are now paying attention to detail and are looking forward to a good event."
2010/03/26 | 15:27 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE