|ABSA 2010: Privateers triumph in Production Vehicle Championship series.|
For the first time in over a decade a privateer crew has won the Production Vehicle overall championship in the South African Absa Off Road Championship. Although they failed to finish the recent RFS Magalies 400, the final round of the championship, RFS Toyota Hilux crew Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst clinched both the overall and premier Class SP championships. It ended a long stream of national championship triumphs by factory teams.
Visser and Badenhorst, in the RFS Toyota Hilux, scored three wins and two second places on their way to finishing 25 points clear of veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS BMW X3. Grobler/ter Stege started the season in an RFS Toyota Hilux before switching to the newly built BMW, and stunned the off road world by winning the Toyota Kalahari 1000 Desert Race.
Third in both the overall and SP Class championships were Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux. Vos was the 2009 champion with him and Howie scoring a lone victory during season.
Other wins during the season went to former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer (Team Ford Ranger TDCi), Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara and Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton in the second Team Castrol Toyota entry. The Woolridge/Skjoldhammer win on the Toyota Dealer 400 was the first by a diesel powered vehicle in the Absa series.
The Class D championship went to Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. The pair scored three wins in a row in the final three races of the season to finish well clear of 2009 champions Dewald van Breda and Johan du Toit in the Northam Toyota Hilux.
Van Breda and du Toit will campaign in the SP Class next season. Class D will, however, be bolstered by two N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser entries in the hands of Cliff and Louis Weichelt.
Toyota picked up their third driver title when Pikkie Labuschagne (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) won the championship ahead of teenager Lance Woolridge in the Team Ford Ranger. A back injury picked up on the Human Auto 400 saw Woolridge miss the RFS Magalies 400 where he was replaced by former champion Manfred Schroder.
The experienced Schroder and Ward Huxtable scored a comfortable win to give Huxtable the co-driver title. Second in the co-driver title race was Rikus Erasmus who shared the 4x4 Mega World Toyota with Labuschagne.
Erasmus missed the championship bus again after he and Labuschagne lost the 2009 title race by a single point. Third in the championship went to Ruwacon Racing Ford Ranger pair Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius.
The prestige SA Manufacturers’ Championship was one-way traffic for Toyota. They finished more than 400 points clear of Ford with Nissan in third place.
2010/11/26 | 12:49 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE