Privateers win at Sun City
Former South African off-road racing champions Terence Marsh and Buks Carolin turned the form book upside down when they won the
Production Vehicle category at the Sun City 400 on Saturday.
Marsh and Carolin (Regent Nissan Navara), became the second privateer team to win an event this season. The pair started fifth on the
road and edged out Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux crew Gary Bertholdt and Andre Vermeulen to join double winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst
(RFS Toyota Hilux) on the privateer roll of honour this season.
Prior to this weekend, Marsh and Carolin were lying 12th in the overall championship with their best result and eighth place on the
Toyota Dealer 400, but it all fell into place for the veteran crew and they eked out a 23-second win ahead of Bertholdt and Vermeulen that
rocketed them into fourth place in the championship.
"That was a tough race," said Marsh who last won in 2008. "At the designated service point we were worried about a noise
from the back of the vehicle, but we later discovered a piece of wire wrapped around a rear hub. It was the sort of result we needed and is
a huge boost for the whole team."
The form book took another beating when Thomas Rundle and former SA champion Juan Mohr completed the podium in the ex-factory Barden
Nissan Navara. In two previous outings this season Rundle/Mohr had failed to finish.
Reigning SA drivers' champion Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Castrol Toyota Hilux), recovered from starting 13th on the road to finish fourth
with the top five completed by Kobus van Tonder and son-in-law Freddie Kriel (Uni Freight Ford Ranger).
There was a controversial incident early in the race, which put leaders Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton, in the second factory Castrol
Toyota Hilux, out of the running. The crew had a collision with Special Vehicle category crew Nick Harper and Kevin Hume (Atlas Copco BAT)
that put the Toyota crew out of action with a damaged front suspension.
Marsh took the lead late on the first of the two loops that made up the race, and managed to hold off Bertholdt and Vermeulen who were
hit by four punctures during the course of the race. Bertholdt also fought a cat-and-mouse battle with Rundle, and at the finish just over a
minute separated the two crews.
Sixth place went to Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (RFS Toyota Hilux) who put together a typically gutsy race. They were
only 26 seconds behind double winners Visser and Badenhorst who rescued valuable championship points with a storming drive from the back of
A roll on Friday's prologue, Visser started from the back of the field. He made up nine minutes on the field on the opening loop, and
continued the charge to the finish.
Among the high-profile casualties were veteran former champions Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege who were having their first outing in
the new diesel RFS BMW. They retired on the first loop with an oil leak.
"We were a bit worried after the prologue, and it was soon evident we were in trouble," Grobler said. "Rather than blow
the motor we decided to call it a day, but the car has a great deal of potential."
The Class D honours went to Deon Venter and Ian Palmer (Mega Toyota Hilux), who were having their first outing of the year. They took
control when reigning champions and current championship leaders Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) ran into a fuel
Down in Class E there was a second win for teenager Lance Woolridge, in his first season of national racing, and Ward Huxtable in the
Ford Ranger. The pair were just behind Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius (Ruwacon Ford) after the first loop and then finished strongly to
comfortably win the battle of the Fords.
The next event in the Absa Off Road Championship will be the Mega World 400 at Carnival City, on the East Rand, on 27 and 28 August.