Darling, Saturday – Veterans Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege made a dream start to the season when they won the Production Vehicle category on the Adenco 400, the opening round of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.
Grobler, who is into his 35th year of motor racing, and ter Stege called on all their experience and know how to dominate the weekend in the diesel powered RFS BMW X3. The pair won the Donaldson Prologue on Friday to start first on the road, and then closed the door on Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr to finish five and a half minutes ahead of the Barden Nissan Navara.
Grobler and ter Stege lost three minutes at the end of the first of two
loops that made up the race for prop shaft repairs, while Rundle and Mohr
were left to rue two punctures at the same spot on a tough and technical
route run in searing heat. After under achieving last season it was,
however, an encouraging start for Rundle and Mohr.
A surprise result saw former Class E champions Jannie Visser and Joks le
Roux score their best ever national result by taking the final podium place
in the Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux. Visser is the elder brother of reigning
South African champion Chris Visser who had to retire on his debut for the
factory Ford Racing team.
“Winning the prologue was the key to our victory,” said Grobler. “Hennie and
I knew we had to have a good start position to have a chance, and winning
the prologue gave us the edge we needed.
“A win early in the season is always a boost, and this will lift confidence
levels in the entire team.”
A solid performance saw Terence Marsh and George Smalberger finish fourth in
the ex factory Regent Racing Nissan Navara with the pair holding off Gary
Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux. Repairing
broken front differential mountings cost the Atlas Copco crew a wad of time
at the end of the first of two loops that made up the race.
With more fancied crews running into problems Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling
(Ruwacon Ford Ranger), Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota
Hilux) and Malcolm Kok/Johan Burger (Team Barberspan Toyota Hilux) move up
the pecking order to grab top eight finishes.
Among those for whom the weekend turned into a disappointment were Visser
and Badenhorst and the two new Team Castrol Toyota Hilux cars. Former SA
champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin ran
into teething problems with the Toyota Hilux double cabs.
While Taylor/Birkin eventually had to call it a day, Vos and Howie battled
to 10th place in the premier SP Class with both cars suffering from fuel
starvation and prop shaft problems. It was also a long day for Visser and
Badenhorst who showed their fighting qualities and, after a myriad of
problems, the crew were the last of the 12 classified finishers in the SP
Reigning Class D champions Deon Venter and Ian Palmer took the Class D
honours in the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux. They were never in trouble after
teenager Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) ran into
problems on the prologue and had to start from the back of the field.
Brothers Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen were a solid third in a Land Rover with
Hein Moolman and JD Wolfaardt fourth in a second 4×4 Mega World Toyota
Hilux. It was tough going for the Class D crews and even tougher for Class E
entrants where there were no finishers.
MAIDEN SPECIAL VEHICLE WIN FOR MATTHEWS/SMITH ON ADENCO 400
Darling, Saturday – Century Racing crew Colin Matthews and Alan Smith got a
monkey off their backs when they won the Special Vehicle category at the
opening round of this year’s Absa Off Road Championship, the Adenco 400,
which finished here today.
It was a maiden win for a team previously known as Donaldson Prologue
specialists and provided the Class P brigade with a third overall victory in
the national championship. Matthews and Smith won the Friday prologue to
determine start positions, and then dominated the race to finish around
eight minutes ahead of the father and son combination of Nick and Ryan
Harper in the Motorite BAT.
For the Harpers, with Ryan making a return to racing after a long term
shoulder injury, it was their first outing in the Motorite team running the
premier Class A category.
The podium was completed by the reigning South African champions Kallie and
Quintin Sullwald who overcame a ten minute penalty during the Friday
prologue to determine start positions for the race.
“It was a long time coming but it was worth the wait,” said a delighted
Matthews. “Over the last 80 kilometres of the race we were a little worried
about a noise from the back of the car, and eased up a little.
“Other than that the prologue and the race were trouble free, and we were
left wondering what took us so long to finally win an event.”
Both the Harpers and the Sullwald’s had solid weekends that augur well for
the rest of the season. The Harpers were as steady as ever, while the
Sullwald’s again showed an aggressive streak that makes them such tough
“We have messed up this race before, and were determined to make a solid
start to the season,” said Harper senior. “It worked out well and it is
always nice to get on the podium on debut for a new team.”
Reigning Class P champions Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the Atlas
Copco BAT, also had to overcome a 10 minute penalty to finish fourth overall
in their Class A debut. The top five were rounded out by KwaZulu-Natal crew
Don Thomson and Wayne Foster, in another Class P entry with the pair, in an
ageing Zarco, were slowed late in the race with a broken radiator pipe.
It was a good event for Class P crews who also supplied the next three
places. The husband and wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (BHP BAT)
led home brothers Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, and RFS
Magalies 400 winners Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson in the Regent
Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn, in the White Star Racing BAT, were ninth
overall and fourth in Class A despite a starter motor malfunction. Behind
them yet another Class P crew in debutant Richard Fuller and old timer Geoff
Minnitt rounded out the top 10 in the Atlas Copco BAT after also running
into starter problems.
A tough and technical route and intense heat took a heavy toll. A troubled
first race in the Total BAT saw Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rossouw finish
a lowly 11th and fifth in Class A, while former South African champions
Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen were forced to retire the Motorite 4×4
Revo1 with a broken prop shaft.
Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and brothers Brett and
Steve Parker (Jimco) were also among the non finishers on what was a tough
event with which to kick off the season.
There was also a maiden win in Class B for Keith Makenete and debutant
co-driver Letlatsa Lehana in a Zarco. After the retirement of the
father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne, with the
Raysonics Zarco suffering from a gearbox failure, Makenete and Lehana
gradually ground down veteran Peter Pfumfei (WPP) who is making a return to
national competition this year.