|Donaldson CC: Battle for 2nd place in Production Vehicle Championship.|
The fight for the runner-up spot in the Production Vehicle category will be the major focus of attention at the "Atlas Copco Gold 400", the final event in this year’s South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship", in Westonaria on November 22 and 23.
With Team Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy wrapping up the title on the recent Ford Dealer 400 in Thaba ‘Nchu, it is the first time in several seasons the championship has failed to go the full distance. Fourth place on the Ford event was enough to take Taylor/Murphy out of reach of Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (Ford Racing Ranger), and current champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the second of the factory Castrol Toyotas.
By scoring their first win of the season in Thaba ‘Nchu the Vos/Howie combination moved to within 17.5 points of Visser and Badenhorst. For both teams and crews pride is at stake, and Visser/Badenhorst will want to head for their Dakar Rally debut next year with a good result under their belts.
With all three crews at the top of the standings sporting 100 percent finish records after the Ford Dealer 400, the championship was ultimately decided on the policy of crews having to drop one score. With Visser and Badenhorst models of consistency this season with seven straight podium finishes, a drop of 11 points for a fifth place tilted matters in favour of Taylor and Murphy.
Behind the top three Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Atlas Copco Nissan Navara) and Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) are the first of the privateer entries. In a tight situation van Staden and Lawrenson are only half a point clear of Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in the second of the Ford Racing factory entries.
The status quo in the premier SP Class standings is exactly the same as in the overall championship. No Class D or Class E cars have threatened top five finishes and the battle at the top of the overall championship has been exclusively SP Class territory.
Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann (Trysome Toyota Hilux) are the first of the Class D contingent to feature on the overall championship list. They are down in 15th place, but with a 17 point lead over Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser) the North West youngsters have one hand on the Class D title.
The Horns have come up with three wins in a row and edged out Venter and van Allemann by just nine seconds on the Thaba ‘Nchu event. Third in the standings are former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (LMC Land Rover) who appear to have lost their knack for reliability.
With back to back Class E titles in the bag Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Ford Ranger) missed the last event. This provided Doug Fear and Kurt de Villiers with their second win of the season in the Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux.
2013/10/25 | 14:07 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE