Monday, 30 July 2012


Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (class SP RFS BMW X3) scored a popular and convincing maiden victory in the Absa Off Road Car Championship on Saturday when they crossed the finish line first in the Sun City 400 in North West Province.

After winning Friday’s 56 kilometre Donaldson prologue, the first time the Retirement Fund Solutions Racing pair has won the time trial that determines the start order for Saturday’s race, Du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren led throughout the 320 kilometre race after a well-judged and trouble-free run in the V8-engined BMW.

Behind them, in thick dust and hot conditions in the areas close to Pilanesberg, there were many retirements with only 32 of the original starters, made up of 30 production vehicles and 28 special vehicles, surviving a fast, tough route. It was the privateer Pretoria-based RFS team’s fourth success in the national off road championship since the diesel-engined version of the BMW scored a win in its first season in the hands of Hannes Grobler in 2010.

Grobler, who is competing in his final season after a distinguished 36-year motor sport career, went on to win two more races last year in the V8 BMW. The dice didn’t roll for him at Sun City last weekend. Starting first in Friday’s prologue he and co-driver Hennie ter Stege had the disadvantage of opening the route and lost three minutes when they had to stop and change a punctured wheel. This dropped them to 20th place among the production vehicles and 38th on the road.

They had made up a few places despite the heavy dust when an electrical malfunction caused the engine to die on them 111 kilometres into the Saturday’s race. They were unable to restart the car. Without scoring any points, they remain on 35,5 and drop from fifth to seventh place in the championship, 71 behind the leaders, Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Toyota Hilux).

With a fine third place in last month’s Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race and now full points for their Sun City jackpot, Du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren have strengthened their fourth place in the championship and are now half a point behind third-placed former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (Ford Ranger) and 38 behind leaders Vos and Howie.

One of the youngest drivers to win a national championship off road race, an elated Du Plooy, 25, who never doubted his ability to stay ahead of the chasing pack after securing the critical advantage of a dust-free pole position, said: “Starting first on the road was key. We knew we had to push as hard as the road conditions allowed and keep the chasers in our dust. I drove fast when I could and was cautious in the tighter, technical sections where the danger of a puncture if you went off the track was always there. It was a tactic that worked for us.

“A big thanks from both of us to the entire RFS team, who have worked hard throughout the year. This win is for them,” said the 25-year-old

Grobler, a legend in South African motor sport with championships in both rallying and off road racing to his credit who has shared his considerable knowledge and experience with his younger team-mate, was generous in his praise of Du Plooy. “Christiaan has developed into a fine off road driver. There are more wins ahead for him in his future and he will be a worthy team leader next season.”


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