Crews bat­tle to grab the gold

Cham­pi­onships went down to the wire in last event of na­tional off-road sea­son

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - MO­TOR NEWS RE­PORTER

TEAM Cas­trol Toy­ota won the bat­tle and the war with a one-two re­sult on the Gold 400, the fi­nal round of the Absa Off Road Cham­pi­onship. An­thony Tay­lor and Chris Birkin scored their first win of the sea­son, but sec­ond place was enough for team-mates Dun­can Vos and Rob Howie to clinch the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle and pre­mier SP Class cham­pi­onships. For Vos it was South African ti­tle num­ber five, with Howie tast­ing cham­pi­onship success for the first time — and the pair will go to next year’s Dakar Rally in South Amer­ica as undis­puted South African cham­pi­ons.

Vos and Howie went in know­ing that even a non fin­ish would give them the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle ti­tle ahead of former cham­pi­ons Chris Visser and Japie Baden­horst, who were in a must-win sit­u­a­tion in the fac­tory Ford Rac­ing Ranger.

The SP Class ti­tle was up for grabs in a straight fight be­tween the Team Cas­trol Toy­ota crews and the Ford pair with a dis­ap­point­ing sev­enth blow­ing Visser and Baden­horst out of con­tention.

“Af­ter three wins in a row, in­clud­ing the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race, it looked as though we would wrap ev­ery­thing up ear­lier in the sea­son,” said Vos. “We stum­bled a lit­tle in the lat­ter half of the year, but we fi­nally got the job done. Af­ter the overnight rain, the con­di­tions to­day made for a very dif­fi­cult race but a one-two re­sult is great for the team.”

Both Tay­lor-Birkin and Vos-Howie re­ported clean runs with two min­utes and 21 sec­onds sep­a­rat­ing the two crews at the fin­ish. Vos and Howie, in turn, had a twominute and 48-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Chris­ti­aan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vu­uren in the RFS BMW X3.

Be­hind the first three, only 53 sec­onds sep­a­rated the next three cars, with Har­ri­smith pair Kobus van Ton­der and Fred­die Kriel (UniFreight Ford Ranger) lead­ing home last year’s over­all and SP Class cham­pi­ons Jan­nie Visser-Joks le Roux (In­ter­na­tional Toy­ota Hilux) and veteran former cham­pi­ons Hannes Grob­ler and Hen­nie ter Stege in the sec­ond RFS BMW X3. For Van Ton­der-Kriel it was their best re­sult of the year, with the race pro­vid­ing an emo­tional end to a 36year ca­reer in mo­tor­sport for the ever pop­u­lar Grob­ler.

Young­sters Ja­son Venter and Vin­cent van Alle­man left the best for last with vic­tory in Class D in the 4x4 Mega World Toy­ota Hilux. The pair were well clear of brothers Jo­han and Werner Horn (Malalane Toy­ota Land Cruiser) and out­go­ing cham­pi­ons Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in the LMC Land Rover.

An­other vic­tory put the fi­nal touches to a re­mark­able sea­son for Class E cham­pi­ons Dirk Put­ter and Koos Claasens in the 4x4 Mega World Toy­ota Hilux. In tough con­di­tions for a four cylin­der ve­hi­cle, they were the only fin­ish­ers in Class E and it was win num­ber seven — to go with a sec­ond place — for the North West province crew.

Evan Hutchi­son and Danie Stassen wrapped up the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cham­pi­onship on the event. The pair, in the Mo­torite BAT Venom, went into the race locked in a three-way bat­tle for the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle and Class A cham­pi­onships with Jo­han van Staden and Mike Lawren­son (Atlas Copco BAT) and brothers Lau­rence and Ger­hard du Plessis in a Zarco. By the end of the first of the two 170km loops, it was all over bar the shout­ing.

In wet and muddy con­di­tions, Van Staden-Lawren­son and the Du Plessis brothers fell off the radar by the end of the first loop. At the half­way point Hutchi­son and Stassen re­ported a clear run, while the Atlas Copco crew re­tired with a bro­ken side-shaft.

Hutchi­son and Stassen swept through the sec­ond loop with no prob­lems to fin­ish well clear of the hus­band and wife team of Mar­ius and Jolinda Fourie, in the PHB BAT, who ended a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son on a pos­i­tive note.

Evan Hutchi­son and Danie Stassen se­cured the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cham­pi­onship.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.