|ABSA 2011: Adenco 400 Rally victory for RFS-BMW X3 crew Grobler/Ter Stege.|
South African veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege made a dream start to the season when they won the Production Vehicle category on the Adenco 400, the opening round of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, which ended on Saturday.
Grobler, who is into his 35th year of motor racing, and ter Stege called on all their experience and know how to dominate the weekend in the diesel powered RFS BMW X3. The pair won the Donaldson Prologue on Friday to start first on the road, and then closed the door on Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr to finish five and a half minutes ahead of the Barden Nissan Navara.
Grobler and ter Stege lost three minutes at the end of the first of two loops that made up the race for prop shaft repairs, while Rundle and Mohr were left to rue two punctures at the same spot on a tough and technical route run in searing heat. After under achieving last season it was, however, an encouraging start for Rundle and Mohr.
A surprise result saw former Class E champions Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux score their best ever national result by taking the final podium place in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux. Visser is the elder brother of reigning South African champion Chris Visser who had to retire on his debut for the factory Ford Racing team.
"Winning the prologue was the key to our victory," said Grobler. "Hennie and I knew we had to have a good start position to have a chance, and winning the prologue gave us the edge we needed. "A win early in the season is always a boost, and this will lift confidence levels in the entire team."
A solid performance saw Terence Marsh and George Smalberger finish fourth in the ex factory Regent Racing Nissan Navara with the pair holding off Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux. Repairing broken front differential mountings cost the Atlas Copco crew a wad of time at the end of the first of two loops that made up the race.
With more fancied crews running into problems Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger), Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux) and Malcolm Kok/Johan Burger (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) move up the pecking order to grab top eight finishes.
Among those for whom the weekend turned into a disappointment were Visser and Badenhorst and the two new Team Castrol Toyota Hilux cars. Former SA champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin ran into teething problems with the Toyota Hilux double cabs.
While Taylor/Birkin eventually had to call it a day, Vos and Howie battled to 10th place in the premier SP Class with both cars suffering from fuel starvation and prop shaft problems. It was also a long day for Visser and Badenhorst who showed their fighting qualities and, after a myriad of problems, the crew were the last of the 12 classified finishers in the SP Class.
Reigning Class D champions Deon Venter and Ian Palmer took the Class D honours in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. They were never in trouble after teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) ran into problems on the prologue and had to start from the back of the field.
Brothers Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen were a solid third in a Land Rover with Hein Moolman and JD Wolfaardt fourth in a second 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. It was tough going for the Class D crews and even tougher for Class E entrants where there were no finishers.
2011/03/14 | 15:51 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE