LOCAL MOTORSPORT: Young pairing serves notice
PRETORIA youngsters Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren confirmed their status as stars of the future when they scored a maiden Production Vehicle national championship victory on the Sun City 400, round five of the Absa Off-Road Championship, at the weekend.
In a perfect weekend for the RFS BMW X3 pair they also won the Donaldson Prologue which determined grid positions for the race. They came home just over two minutes ahead of Team Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin.
There was also a first podium finish for Ruwacon Ford Ranger crew Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling. De Bruyn is a former Special Vehicle category champion but this was his first Production Vehicle category podium finish.
There was late drama, however, when championship leaders Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the second Team Castrol Toyota, were penalised 15 minutes for a designated service park transgression at the end of the first of the two 175km loops that made up the race, dropping them down to seventh place.
Fourth placed Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, in a Ford Racing Ranger, also benefited from the penalty. They finished comfortably clear of Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux) who overcame an overnight five-minute penalty which dropped them way down the start order to force their way into the top five.
The top eight was rounded out by Louis Weichelt and Maret Bezuidenhout who produced a great result that also saw them score their second Class D win in a row in the N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser. Down in Class E there was another comfortable win for championship leaders Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens in the 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux.
KwaZulu-Natal crew Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann scored a maiden national championship victory when they won the Special Vehicle category. The pair, in the LT Earthmovers BAT, were 57 seconds clear of Atlas Copco BAT crew Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson. For Trethewey it completed a family double - his sister Marcelle won the race in 2006 as co-driver to Brandon Harcus in a Motorite BAT.
"We had a few problems but managed to see out the distance," said Trethewey. "With a win on the recent Nangkang Drak 250 in the KZN regional championship and a great result here we have had a good run just recently."
Trethewey and Wichmann finished the first of the two 175km loops that made up the race without brakes. They were then hit by a puncture on lap two but, hampered by dust that made overtaking a risky business, Van Staden and Lawrenson could only close to within a minute.
It was, however, a good weekend for Van Staden and Lawrenson with provisional scoring taking them into the overall lead in the Special Vehicle championship. Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT) arrived at Sun City with a four-point championship lead, but finished fourth behind Mark Corbett and Julien Hardy in the Century Racing CR4.
Seventh overall and the win in Class P was a season best for the daughter and dad team of Sandra and Coetzee Labuscagne in the Raysonics Zarco. They came in ahead of veteran Ernest Corbett who shared driving duties with Guy Henley, with Juan Mohr co-driving, in the Century Racing Jimco.
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