|ABSA 2011: BMW´s Grobler/Ter Stege lead production vehicle championship.|
Veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege made an early statement when they won the opening round of the Absa Off Road Championship, the recent Adenco 400 in the Western Cape, and went to the top of the Production Vehicle and SP Class title chases.
It is familiar territory for two of the most experienced campaigners in off road racing. Grobler is in his 35th year of motorsport participation, and ter Stege has also been around the block once or twice.
The pair dominated the Adenco 400 race in the diesel powered RFS BMW X3, and set up their race win by winning the Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions. Grobler and ter Stege were eventually comfortable winners ahead of Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Barden Nissan Navara) and surprise package Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux.
Fourth in both the early overall and SP Class standings are former Special Vehicle champion Terence Marsh and new co-driver George Smalberger in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara. They are followed by Atlas Copco Toyota crew Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen who lost plenty of time repairing broken front differential mountings.
It was an unhappy first outing for the two new Team Castrol Toyota Hilux double cab entries, and reigning South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in their maiden outing for the factory Ford Racing Team. The two Toyota entries ran into prop shaft and fuel starvation problems with Anthony Taylor/Chris Birkin among the retirements, while former champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie limped home in 10th place.
It was even tougher going for Visser and Badenhorst. They also ran into prop shaft and other problems and were last of the classified finishers in 12th spot in the SP Class.
Reigning Class D champions Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) also got their season off to a flying start with a comfortable class win. They came in ahead of teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) who rolled on the Donaldson Prologue, and brothers Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover.
A tough and technical route, with the race run in searing conditions, took its toll on the Class E brigade and there were no classified finishers. The next race on the Absa off road calendar is the Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga on April 8 and 9. The event will again be based in Lydenburg.
2011/03/16 | 15:54 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE