This weekend will see the last round of the 2011 Absa off-road championship being run in the Magaliesburg area, in the North West Province. This event will also decide who will be the 2011 Super Production (class SP) champions, with no less than six crews who have a shot at the title!
15,5 points. That’s the margin between six Super Production (SP) crews in the Absa off-road championship – and this weekend the six teams will all line up for the RFS Magalies 400 race, near Magaliesburg, for the final round of the 2011 championship.
This is it. This is the one race that really counts for these six crews. This is the decider.
Going into the RFS Magalies event, privateers Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara) are leading the championship. However, the team’s current championship position comes courtesy of consistent performances instead of blistering fast ones in the ex-factory Navara – they have not won an event yet.
Hot on the privateer Navara’s heels is the factory Ford Racing Ranger TDCi of reigning champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst. The turbodiesel Ford has had a topsy turvy 2011 season. On two occasions it ran without any major hassles, and it won those two races. On the other events though, the Ford proved temperamental and unreliable. If the Ranger TDCi and its crew can keep it all together, it should be in with a real chance though.
Privateers Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux (International Toyota Hilux V6) occupy the third position in the championship race. Jannie, brother of reigning champ Chris Visser, is fast, no question. But will the V6-powered Hilux be able to run with the Ford’s turbodiesel engine and the factory Toyota Hilux’s V8 mill?
Privateers Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) – who have one win behind their name, be it a fortuitous one – are in fourth position.
Terence Marsh and George Smalberger, another ex-factory Regent Racing Nissan Navara, are tied on points for fifth position with the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux of multiple champion Duncan Vos and Robert Howie.
The latter crew will compete in the 2012 Dakar Rally as part of the Imperial Dakar team – in the very bakkie that they will race on this weekend’s RFS Magalies event.
After a recent test session in Namibia several improvements and upgrades were made to the Hilux V8 bakkie, and it should be a flyer this weekend.
However, there are several other class SP crews who are capable of winning the race, even though they may not be in contention for the championship honours. At the top of this list are racing legends Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege in the RFS BMW X3 – that is now powered by a mighty BMW M3 V8 engine. If the BMW lasts the distance, it should be right up there.
The second Castrol Toyota Hilux V8, piloted by Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin, will be quick too – no question.
Another crew with a 2011 win behind their names is privateers Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus (Ruwacon Toyota Hilux V6).
With 25 points up for grabs for a win, the RFS Magalies 400 will decide the 2011 Absa off-road production championship. The number of permutations versus finishers and non finishers, and a whole lot of other factors, will all add to Friday and Saturday’s drama and suspense.
So, if we had to put our money on who will be crowned the Class SP champions for 2011, who would it be?
All things considered, we reckon Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who will have the added bonus of Castrol Toyota team-mates Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin assisting them in their championship hunt, will be it.
That said, if the Ford Racing Ranger TDCi runs smoothly – well, then maybe the trophies will remain in Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst’s cupboards for another year.
And forget not the likes of a Grobler or a Labuschagne, who clearly have the speed to win it. Finally, will consistency be the best friend of the three ex-factory privateer Nissan Navaras in the running?
Whichever way it turns out, this weekend’s final showdown is going to be a thriller.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located at Tarlton International Raceway near Krugersdorp. Public entrance to these areas and spectator points along the route will be free of charge.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid position for the race will start at 12:30 on November 11 and the race at 08:30 on November 12.
For more information on other spectator points, visit www.saoffroadracing.co.za.