DREAM VICTORY FOR VISSER/BADENHORST
Nice guys do win and Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst proved it at the Adenco 400, round one of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended in Darling on Saturday.
Visser and Badenhorst, in the RFS/Visser Transport Toyota Hilux, capped a stunning weekend with a maiden Production Vehicle national championship victory. The pair, who also took the premier Class SP honours, dominated the weekend by winning the Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions before romping away with the race in sweltering conditions.
“It was a perfect race,” said a delighted Visser, hugging his small daughter at the finish. “The car was perfect, Japie did a great job and all we had to do on the last loop was avoid mistakes.
“The route was rough and dusty but this is a great way to start the season, and hopefully we can keep the momentum going.”
Visser and Badenhorst came in just over six minutes ahead of Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen who produced another workmanlike performance in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux. Toyota privateers completed a clean sweep of the podium positions when former SA champion Hannes Grobler, having his first outing in an RFS Toyota Hilux after driving various Nissan products for 33 years, and Hennie ter Stege came in third.
A late charge by former Eastern Transvaal rugby star Ramon Bezuidenhout and wife Maret (Red Star Raceway Toyota Hilux) failed to take them ahead of the hugely experienced Grobler and ter Stege. It was, however, a great performance from the Bezuidenhout’s who were having their first SP Class outing.
A Toyota clean sweep of the top five was then nipped in the bud by the Regent Racing Nissan Navara in the hands of Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson. In their first Production Car outing the brothers in law edged out Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Jansen van Vuuren in a second RFS Toyota Hilux.
For the Team Castrol Toyota squad under new team principal Glyn Hall, it was not an auspicious start to the season. Both factory cars, crewed by South African champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton, failed to complete the first of two loops that made up the race.
It was a particularly unhappy outing for Vos and Howie. After the Donaldson Prologue they were penalised 15 minutes for a faulty warning light and, like Taylor and Houghton, went out with suspension problems.
Reigning champions Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit, in the Northam Toyota D4D, were the only finishers in Class D. A clutch repair job after the prologue was their only hiccup.
Class E also saw only one crew see out the distance with newcomers Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius bringing home the Ruwacon Ford Ranger in one piece. Pikkie Labuschagne and Rickus Erasmus (4×4 Megaworld Toyota Hilux) and local crew Etienne Bezuidenhout and Hanro Visser (Adenco Ford Ranger) were early casualties.
VARIAWA/ROUSSEAU TAKE ADENCO 400 SPECIAL VEHICLE HONOURS
Former South African champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau produced a flawless performance to win the Special Vehicle category at the Adenco 400, round one of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended in Darling on Saturday.
Provisional results saw Variawa and Rousseau, in the Team Total Porter, romp to what in the end was a comfortable victory in sweltering hot West Coast conditions. It was a win set when the Team Total pair also won the Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions.
Variawa and Rousseau held off tough challenges from Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) and Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing BAT. The Sullwald’s eventually fell by the wayside on the second of the two loops that made up race distance, and Mathews/Smith could not pressurise the Team Total pair into a telling mistake.
Matthews and Smith eventually finished nearly two and a half minutes behind Variawa and Rousseau. The Century Racing pair, in turn, had more than 10 minutes in hand over reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the Motorite BAT.
Being first on the road has its pros and cons, and for the Team Total pair it almost put paid to their chances. Within the first couple of kilometres a string of closed gates, which were summarily dealt with, left barbed wire wound around three of the Porter’s wheels.
Variawa/Rousseau finished the first loop only seconds ahead of the Sullwald’s. The Sullwald challenge then evaporated midway through the final loop but a well judged race did the trick for Variawa and Rousseau.
“We kept our heads and a steady pace and it paid off,” said Variawa. “We were under a little pressure at the end of the first loop, but once the Sullwald’s went missing we could afford to ease off the pace a little.”
Fourth place went to veteran Nardus Alberts and son Louis, in the Wrapsa BAT, with Johan van Staden and James Rossouw completing the top five in the KEC BAT. Van Staden and Rossouw overcame a shaky start to win Class P with their job made a little easier when South African champion Johan Bezuidenhout and brother Deon, in the Adenco BAT, blew a motor on the second loop.
Veterans Richard Schilling and Chris Davies were second in Class P in an Aceco with Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire third in the Regent Racing Jimco. Over half an hour separated van Staden/Rossouw, the 2009 Rookies of the Year, and the Regent Racing pair.
Reigning South African champion Derick du Toit and local businessman Adre Rheeder (Orange Tree BAT) took a comfortable win in Class B. It was Rheeder’s first ever off road race with the pair promoting the Darling wine route.
Local crew Marius Nicholson and Rod Jeffrey, in an Orange Tree Opel, trailed in second a long way in arrears.
Courtesy of SAORC