There will be no shortage of Production Vehicle championship challengers when this season’s Absa Off Road Championship gets underway with the RFS 400 at Tarlton International Raceway on March 9 and 10.
Last season the championship went all the way to the wire with no fewer than seven crews in line to win the title. North West team Jannie Visser and Joks le Roux, although they never won a race, finally outlasted the rest of the challengers to earn the number one plate for the year.
Visser and le Roux will again be out in the International Truck Toyota Hilux with half a dozen or more crews capable of winning races and the overall championship. Among them are Visser’s brother Chris and Japie Badenhorst the 2010 champions who again team up with Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in the factory Team Ford Ranger squad.
The RFS BMW pair of Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege will be looking for back to back wins on the RFS Magalies 400, and will again have back up from Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren. The veteran Grobler/ter Stege combination will also feel to have realistic title ambitions.
After the Imperial Toyota successes on the 2012 Dakar rally there will be added pressure on Team Castrol Toyota crews Duncan Voss and Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin.
Wolmarransstad pair Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus were the surprise package of last year’s championship in the Ruwacon Toyota Hilux and are again likely to ruffle a few feathers.
The consistent Terence Marsh/George Smalberger and Mike Whitehouse/Mathew Carlson will continue in the current Regent Racing Nissan Navaras until the team takes delivery of two new cars.
Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr (Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara) will want to put 2011 disappointments behind them, and there has been a change of personnel in the Micaren Exel Toyota team. Jaap de Bruyn has finally called it a day and son Hugo will now be partnered by Henri Hugo.
SP Class stalwarts returning to the fray include Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling in the Ruwacon Racing Ford Ranger, Kobus van Tonder and Freddie Kriel (Uni Freight Ford Ranger), Dewald van Breda/Johann du Toit (Potch Plastics Toyota Hilux and Graham and Trevor Leith in the Transcor Ford Ranger. An interesting addition to the fold will be Rustenburg based Willem and Dana Vos who will debut a new Vossies BMW later in the season.
Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen will be back to defend their Class D title in a Land Rover, while Class E will see a couple of new faces at the RFS Magalies. Rowan Lamb and Lyle Parker will be out in a Ford Ranger with Johan Griffioen and Willem Marais, graduates from the Northern Region championship, out in a Toyota Hilux.
Race headquarters and the designated service point will again be located at Tarlton International Raceway. Public access to these areas and spectator points along the route is free of charge.
Copyright Images by Danie van Jaarsveld