|ABSA 2011: High stakes on Atlas Copco 400 Rally in Kwazulu-Natal in May.|
National and regional competitors will be playing for high stakes on the Atlas Copco 400 in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa on May 20 and 21. The event is round three of the Absa off road championship and will be run in conjunction with the third round of the KwaZulu-Natal regional championship.
This is in keeping with the South African National Off Road Racing Association (SANORA) policy of running selected national and regional events together.
The season has reached a stage where some competitors in the Production and Special Vehicle categories will be looking to consolidate good starts while others will be playing a catch up game. Added interest comes by way of switching the event from Eston, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, to Dundee.
"The switch levels the playing field, and competitors are in the dark as to what to expect from the route and prevailing conditions," said SANORA chairman Richard Schilling. "It adds that extra edge of uncertainty to the event."
On the Production Vehicle front Nissan crews head the overall and premier SP Class championships for the first time since the demise of the Nissan factory team. Thomas Rundle and former South African champion Juan Mohr head the standings with Toyota Dealer 400 winners Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson, in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara, second on the log.
There is also pressure on the factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux and Ford Racing Ranger teams. Privateers took the major share of victories last season, and this time around both opening events have been won by privateer teams.
On the Special Vehicle front reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT), have opened up a comfortable early lead in the overall and Class A championships. Those doing the chasing will be desperate to stop the Phalaborwa based father and son team from stretching the lead.
Some tight battles have also developed in the KZN series. In the Class A driver stakes only four points separate Reg Sutton, Clint Gibson and Arthur Barnes. Among the co-drivers Warren Benecke and Anthony Usher are also separated by four points.
James Watson heads the Class B driver championship from Gary Campbell and Rob Bell with Amanda Bothma and Quintin Bell tied for fourth. Ralph Francis leads the co-drivers ahead of Mark Bell with Quintin Brand and Luke van Dort tied for third.
Roger Currin and Dave Confait are tied at the top of the Cricket Class championship with George de Japer five points adrift. A familiar name among the Cricket category is that of Gareth Woolridge whose father Neil is a former SA champion, while older brother Lance is now a member of the Ford Racing factory squad.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and designated service point (DSP) will all be located at the Battlefields Lodge outside Dundee. The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid position for the race will start at 12:00 on Friday, May 20 with the start of the race at 08:30 on Saturday, May 21.
Access to the start/finish and DSP is free of charge. There is also no entry fee to spectator points along the route.
2011/05/05 | 12:27 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE