|ABSA 2010: Surprise Prologue Victory for Bezuidenhout at Toyota Dealer 400.|
The husband and wife team of Ramon and Maret Bezuidenhout sprang a major surprise today when they took the Production Vehicle honours in the Donaldson Prologue at the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the South Afrcina Absa Off Road Championship last Friday.
The Donaldson Prologue, to determine grid positions for the race, produced more than its share of drama with a number of competitors hit with time penalties after deviating from the route. The Bezuidenhout’s, in only their second outing in the Red Star Raceway Toyota Hilux in the premier SP Class, stayed out of trouble to upstage some high profiled crews.
The Delmas based crew finished 11 seconds ahead of Adenco 400 winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the RFS/Visser Transport Toyota Hilux. Visser/Badenhorst were just two seconds ahead of former South African champion Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS Toyota Hilux.
The top five were rounded out by the Castrol Toyota Hilux factory entries of reigning South African champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton. Taylor/Houghton were a little unlucky when they arrived at a river crossing a kilometre from the finish only to find a Special Vehicle stuck in the exit from the stream. "There was nothing we could do but wait until they were pulled out the stream," said Houghton. "It was frustrating because it dropped us from first to fifth."
The Bezuidenhout’s, delighted with their first Donaldson Prologue success, reported a clean run. The pair finished fourth on the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape, the first event of the year, and were looking forward to another good result. "We had a good day," said Maret, "but the race is tomorrow. Starting first on the road is going to put a little extra pressure on us but we are looking forward to the challenge."
Visser/Badenhorst, Grobler/ter Stege and Vos/Howie also reported runs free of major problems. Crews were, however, caught out by the unexpected amount of water on the 125 kilometre route. "The amount of water out there took a lot of us by surprise," said Houghton. "Moving the event forward by a couple of months also meant the grass was a lot longer and made life a little more difficult."
Among the high profile crews who ran into trouble were Gary Bertholdt/Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) and the Regent Racing crews Terence Marsh/Buks Carolin and Mike Whitehouse/Mathew Carlson. An overheating problem saw the Atlas Copco crew stop before they blew the motor, while the Regent racing crews were among those hit with 40 minute penalties for deviating from the route.
A solid run also took Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, in the first outing in the ex Vos Nissan Navara now running in Barden Tyre Services colours, into sixth place. They were around a minute ahead of former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the Ford Racing Ranger, with privateers Kobus van Tonder and Freddie Kriel (Uni Freight Ford Ranger) closing out the top eight.
There were no Class D starters with Class E crews Michael Griffith/Frikkie Tennant (Toyota Hilux), Johan de Lange/Gert Ochse (Nissan Hardbody) and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) all falling by the wayside. All three Class E cars are, however, eligible to start from the back of the field.
2010/04/20 | 17:51 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE