Nissan Motorsport, who have won the last l4 rounds of the South African Off Road Car Racing Championship?presented by ABSA and who secured their third consecutive overall production vehicle championship after winning last month?s Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga, remain as motivated as ever as the eight-event championship comes to an end with the Carnival City Casino 400 on the East Rand on November 14 and 15.
2003 champions Hannes Grobler and Richard Leeke aim to pilot their Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody to their seventh win of the year after dominating the series. They will be backed by team-mates Duncan Vos and Mike Griffith, the 2002 champions, who finished second behind Grobler and Leeke in the last event, giving Nissan its fifth 1-2 finish in the seven events held so far.
2001 champions Giniel de Villiers and Francois Jordaan will sit out this final event as their South African-built independent rear suspension Nissan Hardbody is being prepared at Nissan Motorsport?s Midrand facility for the 2004 Dakar Rally, where it will be entered by French Nissan dealer Dessoude. De Villiers will again compete in the Dakar after his creditable fifth overall in the 2003 event and will be at the wheel of a brand new version of the Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody.
While Nissan cannot be beaten in the prestigious manufacturers? championship - closest rival Toyota has 411 points to Nissan?s 743 - there is still a lot to be fought for in this final round of what has been a long and tough contest that started in March with the Nissan Dealer 400 in Darling in the Western Cape. Both Ford and Toyota, the other two manufacturers officially contesting the championship, are keen to take their first win since May 2002.
?Ford?s Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer (Ford Ranger) and Toyota?s Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton (Toyota Land Cruiser) are all former national off road racing champions and are always a force to be reckoned with. As always, we are taking nothing for granted, but we are keen to extend our record- winning streak. The entire team has worked very hard this year and we will not relax until the final race is won,? says general manager of Nissan Motorsport, Glyn Hall.
With Grobler and Leeke having also wrapped up the class T championship for modified production vehicles, there is still class D for six cylinder near-standard vehicles to be settled.
Privateers will carry the Nissan flag in class D and also in class E for near-standard four-cylinder production vehicles, as they have done with distinction throughout the season.
Alfie Cox, South Africa?s most successful off-road racing motorcyclist and a top contender for overall honours in the two-wheeled section of Dakar 2004 on his KTM, is back from finishing second in the motorcycle section of the UAE Desert Race in Dubai and will be keen to reassert the authority he exercised on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in May and the Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 in July, when he won class D in his Arnold Chatz Cars Nissan Hardbody. He will be with regular co-driver partner Hennie ter Steege.
Former class D champion Hein Grobler and co-driver Gerhard Prinsloo head the class D points standings in their GBS Hardbody with one race to go. But just five points behind are the Mitsubishi Colt team of Johan and Marthinus van der Merwe, so this battle is still to be won and lost.
GBS Nissan Hardbody team-mates Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber are fourth in the points standings, a single point ahead of Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Toyota Land Cruiser) and 10 points behind third-placed motoring journalists Deon Schoeman and Jeremy Fall (Ferodo/Topcar Nissan Hardbody).
The GBS team?s husband and wife pairing of JP and Linda Augustin, currently 10th in the class D points standings, will also carry the challenge to the other class D contenders in their Hardbody.
BB Auto?s Arnold du Plessis and George Baker, who joined the championship halfway through the season, will make their last appearance of the year in their class D Hardbody. Team-mates and brothers Jurie and Andre du Plessis will compete in their class E (near standard four-cylinder) BB Auto Hardbody.
Husband and wife team Neels and Zelda van der Walt are currently fourth in class E in their Hardbody and will be looking to finish a tough season on a high note. The class E championship has been wrapped up by off-road racing rookie Mark Cronje and his experienced co-driver Chris Birkin in the works Castrol Toyota Hilux.
Original article from Car