The Nissan Dealer 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, got off to a damp start in Darling in the Western Cape this morning.

Overnight rain and threatening storm clouds at the start this morning did not dampen the spirits of the ?? Production and Special starters who face three gruelling laps of a 115km course that features high speed sections, thick power-sapping sand and rocky outcrops.

Overnight leaders Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau (Advansoft BAT) took off like greased lightning at the start and were followed 21 seconds later by Hannes Grobler and Francois Jordaan (Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody) and teammates Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford who were a further 20 seconds behind the leaders.

Fifteen minutes into the race Bertholdt and Rousseau went missing, which allowed Grobler and Jordaan to take over the lead and open a gap of 2m30s on Cox and Pitchford.

Father and son Cliff and Louis Weichelt (Bosal/N1 4x4 Toyota) hit a tree fifteen minutes into the race and medical assistance was required for the co-driver.

Reigning Special Vehicle champions Atang Makgekgenene and Buks Carolin (Total Jimco) too over the Special Vehicle lead and were followed by Terence Marsh and Michael Whitehouse (Nashua Mobile BAT Spec-1) who had made up two places. Will Battershill and Reg Sutton (Jimco) who were having their first outing in Class A made up five places and were followed by father and son Rob and Gareth Wark (Superpave Chenowth) who had dropped a place.

In the Class D battle Deon Schoeman and Jan Sime (Topcar Nissan Hardbody) came from 20th overall to overtake Manfred Schroder and Alec Harris (Team Ford Racing Ranger) and overnight leaders Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin (Castrol Toyota Hilux 2.7i) and relegate them to eighth and ninth overall respectively.

Clint Gibson and Marcelle Trethewy (Gibson Plant Hire BAT) made the biggest gain by moving from 33rd overall to 10th overall and fifth in the Special Vehilce category.

Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod (Motorite Racing BAT) managed to overtake overnight Class B leaders Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen (Century Property Developments BAT) while Class E leaders Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Tyco Trucks Toyota Hilux 2.7i) are presently 13th overall and sixth in the Production Vehicle category.

Two vehicles are stuck in a mud hole and the rest of the field is backed up with no where to go. Officials have arranged for a tractor to tow the stricken vehicles out of the mud and are also cutting fences to create a bypass.

Unofficial positions after 115km:

1. Hannes Grobler / Francois Jordaan (Nissan)

2. Alfie Cox / Ralph Pitchford (Nissan)

3. Atang Makgekgenene / Buks Carolin (Jimco)

4. Terence Marsh / Michael Whitehouse (BAT Spec-1)

5. Will Battershill / Reg Sutton (Jimco)

6. Deon Schoeman / Jan Sime (Nissan)

7. Rob Wark / Gareth Wark (Chenowth)

8. Manfred Schroder / Alec Harris (Ford)

9. Mark Cronje / Chris Birkin (Toyota)

10.Clint Gibson / Marcelle Trethewey (BAT)

Original article from Car