A pair of factory heavyweights will slug it out with two national Production Vehicle titles at stake, and an old warrior will ride off into the sunset on the Gold 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, on the West Rand this Friday and Saturday.
Taking each other on in fights for the overall Production Vehicle and premier SP Class titles will be championship leaders Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, from the Team Castrol Toyota Hilux corner, and Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst from the Ford Racing Ranger stable. With an overall championship lead of 18.5 points, and 25 to play for over the weekend, the odds are on the Toyota team – but this is motor racing and anything can happen.
Against the background of the Toyota/Ford battle a touch of nostalgia will infiltrate proceedings when old warrior Hannes Grobler comes under starting orders for the last time in the RFS BMW X3. Multiple South Africa track, rally and off road champion Grobler will retire after a career spanning more than three decades.
The Gold 400 is also the final event to be run under the Absa banner. An 11 year association between Absa and off road racing ends this weekend with new sponsors on board for next year.
Former champion Vos has been at the sharp end of the overall and SP Class championship battles throughout the season. Matters haven’t gone as smoothly for Visser, and it has taken a pair of successive victories on the 4x4 Mega World 400 and Human Auto 400 to put him back into title contention.
In the Special Vehicle class, a three-way battle rages between Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Venom), Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco BAT), and brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco).
The three crews are separated by 22.5 points in a championship where the Du Plessis brothers are the only multiple winners this season.
The Gold 400’s race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located 70 kilometres from Johannesburg at the Kloof Country Club in Glenharvie. Public entry to these areas and spectator points along the route is free of charge. The Donaldson Prologue to determine race grid positions will start at 12.3opm tomorrow and the race at 8.30am on Saturday. -Pretoria News Motoring