|ABSA 2011: Tight Championship underline competitive nature of ABSA Series.|
Production Vehicle category championship battles that went all the way to the wire once again underlined the competitive nature of the South African Absa Off Road Championship. Both the overall and premier SP Class championships hinged on the final event of the season, the RFS Magalies 400, at Tarlton International Raceway.
In the end second place overall was enough to give North West crew Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, in the International Truck Toyota Hilux, the title ahead of former champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Team Castrol Toyota Hilux) and outgoing champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the Team Ford Ranger.
The top five were rounded out by the two Regent Racing Nissan Navara pairings of Terence Marsh and George Smalberger and Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson. Seven crews went in to the RFS Magalies 400 with a mathematical chance of winning the title with Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr (Barden Tyre Service Nissan Navara) and Whitehouse/Carlson classified as non finishers.
In a desperately close SP Class battle Marsh and Smalberger lost out to Visser and le Roux by the slenderest of margins. When all was said and done the gap between the two teams was half a point.
Differing point allocations for overall and class results lead to anomalies with Vos and Howie classified third in the SP Class behind Visser/le Roux and Marsh/Smalberger. Whitehouse/Carlson were fourth and Rundle/Mohr completed the top five.
Class D champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen, in the LMC Land Rover, were the only Production Vehicle crew to end the season with a 100 percent finish record on the eight events that made up the championship. The pair had the championship wrapped up before the RFS Magalies event, and finished ahead of outgoing champions Deon Venter and Ian palmer (4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) and Louis Weichelt and Francis Boersma in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser.
In a close finish in the Class E drivers’ championship Diederik Hattingh (Transcor Toyota Hilux) edged out Dirk Putter (Zizwe Toyota Hilux) by only two points. Teenager Jason Venter, son of Deon, was third in his first season in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux.
There was a different situation in the co-driver stakes where there were mid-season crew changes. Koos Claasens, who sat alongside Putter, took the title ahead of youngster Vincent van Alleman, who partnered Venter, and Walter Hickley who joined Gerald le Roux in the Ruwacon Ford Ranger late in the season.
Putter and Claassens won three out of the last four events. It was not enough, however, for Putter to overhaul the consistent Hattingh in the driver stakes.
2011/11/21 | 19:29 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE