|ABSA 2010: Two choices for Production Vehicle crews at Toyota Dealer 400.|
Consolidate or play the catch up game are the choices that face top contenders in the Production Vehicle category at the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, in Mpumalanga on April 16 and 17. The opening round of the championship in the Western Cape saw some notable teams fall by the wayside. The stand out under achievers were the two Castrol Toyota Hilux teams of reigning driver’s champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton.
They will be desperately keen to bounce back, particularly on a Toyota sponsored event, along with the likes of Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. After missing the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape veteran former champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer will be looking to make an immediate impact in the turbo diesel Ford Racing Ranger, and in the eyes of most of the opposition will be classified as danger men.
With a heavy numerical advantage in the premier SP Class entries Toyota will be heavily favoured to produce the winners from their ranks. But while there will be an enormous amount of pressure on the two Team Castrol Toyota crews, the likes of Adenco 400 winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS/Visser Transport Toyota Hilux) can look towards consolidating a dream start to the season.
Gary Bertholdt/Andre Vermeulen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege (RFS Toyota Hilux) and Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux) fall into the same category. Bertholdt/Vermeulen and Grobler/ter Stege have credentials that would tempt punters to lay out a few bob on them to win.
There were encouraging debuts in the Western Cape for Ramon and Maret Bezuidenhout (Red Star Racing Toyota Hilux) and Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson, in the second Regent Racing Nissan Navara, and they will want to keep the momentum going. George Bezuidenhout/David van Wyck (AIM Toyota Hilux) and Willem and Dana Vos (Vossies Toyota Hilux) join the catch up gang and Jaco and Keith Solomon make a return in the JAM TEC Hilux.
Ford hopes will rest mainly with the experienced Woolridge and Skjoldhammer. The Ford presence is bolstered by the dependable Kobus van Tonder and Freddie Kriel who will be out in a new Uni Freight Ford Ranger, and a good result in their SP Class debut in the Adenco 400 provides Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) with plenty of encouragement.
The Nissan challenge is bolstered by the appearance of Thomas Rundle and former SA champion Juan Mohr in the ex Duncan Vos/Ralph Pitchford Nissan Navara running in Barden Tyre Services colours. The pair could pose a threat and along with the two Regent Racing entries make up a trio of more than competent privateers.
The SP Class boasts 16 entries with more cars in the pipeline as the season progresses. It looks likely that as the year wears on a first division and a second division will appear with huge competition in both.
Competition in Class D is a little thin on the ground at this stage with reigning champions Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota D4D) again likely to have matters all their own way. With other cars in the pipeline – notably N1 4x4 Toyota Hilux D4D entries for Cliff Weichelt/Johan Smalberger and Louis Weichelt/Francis Boersma – the Potchefstroom based van Breda and du Toit will want to make hay while the sun shines.
The appearance of Lance Woolridge, son of former SA champion Neil, dominates the Class E entry. Young Woolridge will be paired with the experienced Ward Huxtable in a Ford Racing Ranger and will come under some intense scrutiny.
Etienne Bezuidenhout and Hanro Visser (Adenco Ford Ranger), Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus (4x4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) and Adenco 400 winners Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) all sit this one out. Johan de Lange and Gert Ochse make a first appearance in a Nissan Hardbody and are an unknown quantity.
The race will again start outside Lydenburg Toyota in Voortrekker Street at 08:00 on Saturday, 17 April with the finish and the designated service point at the Lydenburg Ruby Club. The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for the race will start at 11:30 from the Lydenburg Rugby Club on Friday, April 16.
As usual the race is spectator friendly with numerous vantage points within easy reach of Lydenburg. Access to the start/finish, the designated service point and all spectator areas is free of charge.
2010/04/13 | 12:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE