Tense cross coun­try rac­ing

The ac­tion in the Class T bat­tle could not be closer as rac­ers hunt points for over­all po­si­tions

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - CHARMAINE FOR­TUNE

WITH two events still to be run cham­pi­onship po­si­tions in the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory of the South African Cross Coun­try Se­ries (SACCS) have taken on an in­ter­est­ing look.

The Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA pair of South African cham­pi­ons Leeroy Poul­ter/Rob Howie and Giniel de Vil­liers/Dennis Mur­phy still dom­i­nate the over­all cham­pi­onship, but there has been a sig­nif­i­cant change in the FIA Class stand­ings.

Poul­ter/Howie con­tinue to lead the over­all cham­pi­onship, with a re­duced ma­jor­ity, but the stand­ings in the FIA Class have seen de Vil­liers and Mur­phy over­take their Toy­ota Hilux team­mates.

Two wins in a row on the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race and the re­cent Har­ri­smith 400 have seen de Vil­liers/Mur­phy re­duce the deficit in the over­all se­ries to seven points, and over­take the cham­pi­ons in the FIA Class.

The gap in the FIA Class is eight points and it is now game on be­tween the two Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing teams who are also de­fend­ing a Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA un­beaten record since the start of the 2015 sea­son.

Third place among the FIA Class driv­ers is held down by Jo­han van Staden in the Elf Re­nault Duster with Ter­ence Marsh, who missed the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race, in fourth. Van Staden’s reg­u­lar nav­i­ga­tor, Mike Lawrenson, missed the Har­ri­smith event but still re­tains third place on the co­driver cham­pi­onship while Marsh has utilised two celebrity co-driv­ers.

The ac­tion in the Class T bat­tle could also not be closer where the over­all po­si­tions are con­cerned. Here broth­ers Jo­han and Werner Horn (Malalane Toy­ota Hilux) in third place have a three point led over Gareth Wool­ridge/ Boyd Dreyer and nine points in hand over Lance Wool­ridge/ Ward Huxtable, both in Ford NWM Puma Lubri­cants Rangers.

But in the Class T stakes there is again a re­duced ma­jor­ity. Here the lead be­tween the Horns and Gareth Wool­ridge/Dreyer has been whit­tled down from more than 20 points to just seven points with Lance Wool­ridge and Huxtable 14 points be­hind the team from Mpumalanga.

It is also game on for the Horns and the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg-based Ford NWM Puma Lubri­cants squad. It is a year since the NWM work­shops burned down but they have another team in the top five in the Class T cham­pi­onship in rook­ies Henk Late­gan and Barry White.

Late­gan and White trail the el­der of the Wool­ridge broth­ers and Huxtable by a size­able mar­gin, but have shown im­pres­sive pace through­out the sea­son. They have over­taken reign­ing Class T cham­pi­ons Jason Venter and Vince van Alle­mann (4x4 Mega World Toy­ota Hilux), who failed to fin­ish in Har­ri­smith, and Hen­nie de Klerk and Achim Bergman, who missed the Har­ri­smith event.

By con­trast to the FIA and Class T cham­pi­onships the cur­rent sta­tus quo sees former South African cham­pion Jan­nie Visser and son Chris (Toy­ota Hilux), lead­ing Dave Huddy and Ger­hard Schutte (Nis­san Navara) by the prover­bial coun­try mile. The Vis­sers have won all three events in which they have en­tered and hold a 26 point ad­van­tage over Huddy and Schutte.

Richard Leeke ju­nior and Henry Kohne (Ford Ranger) have been hit by re­tire­ments in their first sea­son in the na­tional se­ries. How­ever, the pair has shown flashes of what one would ex­pect from young Leeke who is the son of the former rally and cross coun­try leg­end Richard Leeke se­nior.

The next event is the Sun City 400 on Septem­ber 15. Punc­tures will again be the great lev­ellers in this race, and the driv­ers los­ing the least air will win. None of the lead­ing con­tenders can af­ford to slip up, and a week­end that of­fers na­tional cross coun­try rac­ing at its best at a world class re­sort has sud­denly taken on a new mean­ing.


Pi­eter­mar­itzburg’s Lance Wool­rdi­ge­and Ward Huxtable will be chas­ing 14 points, but care­fully, over the tra­di­tional rocky routes in the Sun City 400 next month.

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