SA OFF ROAD CAR RACING CHAMPIONSHIP…PRESENTED BY ABSA

There will be added interest in the Special Vehicle battle on the Toyota Dealer 400, round seven of the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship…presented by Absa that will take place in the Lydenburg area on October 24 and 25.

The Class A field has attracted a newcomer in the form of Clint Gibson who, with co-driver Mike Brown, has won Class B on the past three occasions. Gibson has acquired the Audi V8 powered BAT that was driven by Belgian Gregoire de Mevius on the recent Sun City 400 and will race under the Praesidium Financial Services banner. Gibson and Brown’s consistency and pace in the Class B BAT should place them in good stead and an overall win cannot be discounted.

Veterans Henry Kirstein and Renier Jooste elected to compete in various regional events this season but the lure of national championship competition was too great and they jumped at the chance to buy Gibson’s Class B BAT. Kirstein and Jooste will make their debut in the Atlas Copco BAT on the Toyota Dealer 400 and also compete in the Carnival City Casino 400.

BAT vehicles have become a dominant force in the Special Vehicle category and are giving the American imports a run for their money. On current form Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400 and Sun City 400 winners Gary Bertholdt and Brandon Harcus are definitely the team to beat but will have to pull out all the stops to stay ahead of the rest of the Class A brigade.

Nissan Dealer 400 and Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 winner Atang Makgekgenene, and a co-driver still to be announced, suffered engine failure on the Total SAM Racing Jimco on the last two events and is keen to get back into the winners circle. So too are Nissan Sugarbelt 400 winners and Class A championship leaders Gerald Mundell and Billy Bond (Prolong BAT) and Toyota 1000 winners John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt in the O’Hagan’s/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Jimco.

Former Special Vehicle champion Mark Corbett and Jason Bruwer have set the fastest times in Prologues and led races but have been dogged by suspension failures on the Century Property Developments BAT. The same scenario applies to husband and wife Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis in the Mobil Jimco but they have suffered gearbox and engine failures on the past three occasions.

The Nashua Mobile Racing squad of Terence Marsh and Trevor Ahier (Jimco) and Greg Daus and Archie Rutherford (Chenowth) has treated this as a development year. Both vehicles have been fitted with powerful Mitsubishi V6 engines with the Jimco sporting a supercharged version and the Chenowth a twin turbocharged version. Marsh and Ahier came from 48th to finish third overall in the Special Vehicle category on the Sun City 400 while Daus and Rutherford started last and moved up to second before being sidelined by a broken left front suspension arm.

Whichever way one looks at matters it’s going to be a case of BAT versus the American imports with everyone in Class A out to upstage the factory teams in the Production Vehicle category by winning the Toyota Dealer 400 overall, as they did on events in years gone by.

The Class B battle has been closely fought all season with Special Vehicle championship leader Giel Nel (Luk Africa Truggy), Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (Rollerbak Racing JRE), Clint Gibson and Mike Brown (Praesidium Financial Services BAT) and Andrew Birkin (Wingfoot) the main protagonists.

With Gibson and Brown now out of the equation it is going to be a straight fight between Nel and Taylor/de Chalain for overall and class championship honours with Birkin, Kirstein/Jooste and father and son Rob and Gareth Wark (O’Hagan’s/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Mighty Mag) the dark horses.

Class S has been a two-horse affair with Nick Goslar and Warren Bowie (O’Hagan’s/Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) and Mohammed Noor and Mohammed Moultsen (Supa Veg Raceco) locked in a seesaw battle for the championship crown. Despite being co-leaders in the Class S championship Noor and Moultsen have not entered so a finish will be crucial for Goslar and Bowie if they hope to win the championship in their debut year.

The Class S scene was livened up at the recent Sun City 400 when veteran Nardus Alberts, who last raced three years ago, made an appearance in the ex-Greg Daus Toyota 1000 winning Wrapsa Raceco and was immediately on the pace. Alberts and co-driver Colin Hunter will be difficult to beat in Lydenburg.

The Toyota Dealer 400 gets underway at 13:00 on Friday, October 24 with a 36km Prologue to determine starting positions for Saturday’s main event. The Prologue starts and finishes at the Badfontein Boere Saal at Kwena Dam.

The symbolic start of the main event will be on Saturday, October 25 at 07:30 from Lydenburg Toyota on the corner of Voortrekker Street and Lange Street, Lydenburg and crews will then proceed to the Lydenburg Airfield where the event proper gets underway at 08:00.

Crews then head for the Kwena basin on a 120km section, which will only be used once, following which they will complete two laps of a 120km loop before finishing at the Badfontein Boere Saal.

The first vehicle is expected at the finish at approximately 13:30.