The Carnival City 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, again produced a dramatic finish to an action packed season of close racing.
The Production Vehicle category was won for the third time in the four year history of the Carnival City 400 by former champions Neil Woolridge and Ken Skjoldhammer in the Team Ford Racing Ranger who stood an outside chance of winning the Production Vehicle championship if leaders Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan in the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody and teammates and reigning champions Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke failed to finish.
As luck would have it de Villiers and Jordaan retired on lap two with clutch problems, which put them out of the running. Grobler and Leeke had led for much of the race but then disaster struck on lap three when a front side shaft broke. All attempts to remove the broken side shaft, which was flaying around and causing considerable damage to the underside of the Nissan, failed so they decided to nurse the vehicle to the finish.
As the minutes ticked by the Ford crew came closer and closer to winning the title but the Nissan pair persevered and finished third, 28 minutes behind the winners and three minutes behind visiting Hungarians Sandor Kis and Pieter Czegledi in a Nissan Hardbody to clinch its second successive championship.
The battle for the Class D championship took a dramatic turn.
Championship leaders Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford had a day fraught with mechanical problems on the Arnold Chatz Cars Nissan Hardbody and had to look on while reigning Class E champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton won the class in the Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i. The Nissan crew was stranded within sight of the finish with front suspension failure and the Class D championship appeared to belong to the Toyota crew.
However, fellow competitor Henri Zermatten, always the Good Samaritan, stopped and gave Cox a bolt with which to repair the suspension. Cox and Pitchford limped home to finish fifth in class, which brought them level on points with Cronje and Birkin. The Class D championship was awarded to the Nissan crew by virtue of them having picked up five class victories versus the Toyota pair’s two class wins.
Hein Grobler and Gerhard Prinsloo finished second in Class D in the GBS Racing Nissan Hardbody with Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst third in the Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux 2.7i.
Dirk van Reenen Sr. and son Dirk won Class E in the Savannah Ford Ranger and were followed home by Pietermaritzburg based Baphumze Rubuluza and Khulile Vakalisa in the Team Ford Racing Ranger and Gavin Cronje and Robin Houghton in the Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i.
As per last year a Special Vehicle crossed the finish line ahead of the highly fancied Production Vehicles and this time it was Nissan Sugarbelt 400 winners Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr in the Century Property Developments Bat who clinched the overall victory and the Special Vehicle category win. Last year Gary Bertholdt and Brandon Harcus also won overall in a Bat.
Brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis finished second in their only outing of the season in the Jimco Porsche while newly crowned Special Vehicle Drivers and C-drivers champions Atang Makgekgenene and Buks Carolin finished third in the Total Jimco.
Former Class B champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain got the better of their rivals to clinch the Class B win and the championship for the second time. John Thomson and Clinton McNamara brought their Mormond Zarco home second with brothers Hamish and Alastair Stubbs third in the Fence Erect Viper.
Class S winners Zane Noble and Richard Hope were disqualified after a marshal reported that Hope had not worn his helmet when entering a marshal point. However, the Gaborone based pair had scored enough points during the season to earn them the Class S championship crown.
Original article from Car