An early shower for RFS Motorsport’s Du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren in Nkomazi 400
There was an early shower for RFS Motorsport’s Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren when they crashed out of the second round of the Donaldson South African Cross Country Championship in Mpumalanga on Saturday while challenging eventual race winners Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger) for the lead.
Their weekend started well with victory in Friday’s 66-kilometre prologue that determined the start order for Saturday’s race. In a faultless drive they completed a tight and technical route that suited them and their BMW in a time of 1 hr 2 min 14 sec, a minute and 40 seconds in front of former champions Visser and Badenhorst.
They lost their lead to Visser and Badenhorst halfway through the first of Saturday’s two 155-kilometre loops when their windscreen misted up in a tricky forest section that was shrouded in low cloud and they were unable to see where they were going. They fought back to within 30 seconds of the eventual race winners with the end of the first loop in sight.
A large stretch of muddy water had to be negotiated just a few hundred metres from the final control when, blinded by a muddy windscreen, thanks to a windscreen wiper catching on an advertising sticker, they hit the water at speed. The car aquaplaned into a spin, dug into the mud and flipped on to its side. By the time they were able to get the car back on to its wheels and discovered that the windscreen had become dislodged it was all over.
“This was very disappointing,” admitted Du Plooy. “We had a two-minute advantage over Chris and Japie when the windscreen started to mist up in the mountains and we had managed to catch up when it all went wrong. Coming after the disappointment of our retirement in the previous round (they were leading the season-opening RFS Magalies 400 in Gauteng by three minutes when they hit a rock and destroyed a wheel), it has seriously dented our championship ambitions.
“The bottom line is we have scored no points in two rounds and now have a big task ahead of us to make up for this. However, we’re not despondent. The RFS BMW is strong and has run like clockwork in both races this year and we’re looking forward to scoring our first win of the season,” said the winner of last year’s Sun City 400.
Their first opportunity will be in five weeks’ time when they travel from their Pretoria base to KwaZulu-Natal for round three, the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400 on May 17 and 18.