Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford scored their second successive Absa Off Road Championship overall when they won the production vehicle category of the Sun City 400 this afternoon in their Sasol-supported Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody.
Second overall and first in class D were Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin in their Castrol Toyota Hilux, 31 minutes behind the Nissan and nearly nine minutes ahead of the third-placed vehicle, the class D Coca Cola-backed BB Auto Nissan Hardbody of Arnold du Plessis and John Knox.
Deon Schoeman and Jan Sime were fourth overall and third in class D in the Autopage Cellular/Du Pont/Topcar Nissan Hardbody.
First class E vehicle across the finish line at the Sun City Sports and Recreation Club was the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux of Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, which was eighth overall.
Fresh from their maiden success together in the recent Toyota 1 000 Desert Race, Cox and Pitchford took over the lead 15 minutes after the 08h00 start this morning when their team-mates, Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan, who had started first after winning Friday’s 45-km prologue, stopped with a broken propshaft.
Grobler and Jordaan did well to eventually finish sixth overall, 39 minutes behind the winning Nissan, despite losing half an hour with their propshaft problems and another half an hour when the starter motor failed.
Overall winner of the 400-km race and first among the special vehicles was the class A Jimco of Gerhard du Plessis and Ferdie Seegers. They finished 24 minutes ahead of the class A Nashua Mobile Racing BAT of Terence Marsh and Mike Whitehouse.
Third was the class A Kopanong Hotel Super Team Jimco of John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt after Juan Mohr and Jason Bruwer (Century Property Developments BAT) were disqualified because the co-driver was not wearing his helmet at one stage during the race.
Weir-Smith and Minnitt were leading the special vehicles with just 30 km to go when a belt came loose in the engine compartment and they were forced to stop to make hasty repairs.
First in class B and sixth overall among the special vehicles was the Motorite Racing BAT of Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod. Their’s was one of the drives of the day after they started 10th in class and 21st overall because of power steering problems in the prologue.
Reigning class B champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain were second in their JRE, 11 minutes behind the BAT and 20 minutes ahead of third-placed John Thomson and Clinton MacNamara in their Zarco Lite.
Despite overnight repairs, the power steering failed again during the first of the three 135-km laps of today’s race and Hutchison was forced to drive the last two laps with no power steering.
Class S was won by former national off road champion Richard Schilling and Chris Davies in their Plastotech Aceco, who were eighth overall. Second and 10th overall were Archie Rutherford and Vincent Horn in a Sandmaster.
The Nissan team of Cox/Pitchford, Du Plessis/Knox and Schoeman/Sime won the manufacturers’ prize for the day.
1 G du Plessis/F Seegers (Jimco) 5h 42m 44s; 2 T Marsh/M Whitehouse (BAT) 6h 6m 53s; 3 J Weir-Smith/G Minnitt (Jimco) 6h 7m 34s; 4 W Battershill/R Sutton (Jimco) 6h 14m18s; 5 N and R Harper (BAT) 6h 19m 51s; 6 E Hutchison/T Ormerod (BAT) 6h 20m 29s; 7 R and G Wark (Chenowth) 6h 23m 17s; 8 R Schilling/c Davies (Aceco) 6h 24m 29s; 9 M Taylor/M de Chalain (JRE) 6h 31m 43s; 10 A Rutherford/V horn (Sandmaster) 6h 41m 04s.
1 A Cox/R Pitchford (Nissan) 5h 46m 57s; 2 M Cronje/C Birkin (Toyota) 6h 18m 10s; 3 A du Plessis/J Knox (Nissan) 6h 26m 08s; 4 D Schoeman/J Sime (Nissan) 6h 36m 43s; 5 J and A du Plessis (Nissan) 6h 43m 46s; 6 H Grobler/F Jordaan (Nissan) 6h 46m 24s; 7 G Cronje/R Houghton (Toyota) 6h 47m 52s; 8 C Visser/J Badenhorst (Toyota) 6h 48m 39s; 9 H Zermatten/B Schwegler (Mitsubishi) 6h 57m 00s; 10 C Labuscagne/J Gerber (Nissan) 7h 46m 14s. Ends