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South Africa Off-road Championship

Nissan Off Road Champion ChipTarlton, November 7 – The Nissan Motorsport Donaldson Nissan Navara team of Duncan Vos/Ralph Pitchford, Ivar Erik Tollefsen/Quin Evans and Hannes Grobler/Juan Mohr claimed the top three places in the 2009 South African Off-Road Championship for production vehicles, which finished with the RFS Magalies 400, the eighth round of the series at Tarlton in Gauteng on Saturday.

In a season in which the team dominated what would be its last national off road championship, Nissan won six of the eight rounds and Vos and Pitchford emerged champions with five wins and 148 points. It was Vos’s third consecutive championship success and Pitchford’s second in three years. Norwegian Tollefsen and Briton Evans were runners-up in their best result in three seasons of contesting the championship with 94 points. Former champion driver Grobler, appearing in his final race for Nissan after a remarkable 33-year career with the same manufacturer, and defending co-driver champion Mohr were third with one win and 81 points.

Nissan’s record for the nine years it has contested the championship is nine driver and co-driver championships, six manufacturers’ championships and a total of 57 wins in 72 events.

The final round of the 2009 championship saw Grobler and Mohr finishing in second after 457 km and more than six hours of racing. Grobler and Mohr, despite starting ninth after a troubled prologue, snatched the runner-up spot in the last 100 metres by just two seconds at the flying finish at the Tarlton International Raceway.

Tollefsen and Evans, who overcame a poor starting position of eighth after being slowed by two punctures on Friday’s 85-km prologue, crossed the finish line in fourth place.

Newly crowned champions Vos and Pitchford, who won Friday’s prologue to start Saturday’s race from pole position, recorded their first non-finish of the year when they were forced out in the second half of Saturday’s 378-km route with electrical problems.

“It was not our best race of the season, but we are very happy to have secured the top three places in the overall championship today,” said Glyn Hall, Nissan Motorsport’s outgoing general manager. “We had hoped to end our last race of a wonderful nine years in off road racing with another win, but it was not to be. We leave off road racing with a record we can all be proud of and I would like to thank Nissan’s management for their enthusiastic support over the years, my team for their dedication and hard work which has brought them so much success, the Nissan privateers who have helped us to win six manufacturers’ titles in nine years and the thousands of loyal Nissan fans around South Africa and in Botswana who have supported us and inspired us. ”

Nissan entered off road racing in 2001 following the demise of the national touring car championship, which they won with Giniel de Villiers in a Nissan Primera from 1997 to 2000. De Villiers and co-driver Francois Jordaan won the first of the nine successive off road championships in a Nissan Hardbody.

Vos and Mike Griffith won in 2002 in a Hardbody, Grobler won with Richard Leeke in a Hardbody in 2003 and 2004, Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford won in a Hardbody in 2005, Grobler and Leeke won again in 2006 in a Nissan Navara, Vos was champion driver in a Navara in 2007 and 2008 with Grobler’s co-drivers Jordaan and Juan Mohr taking the co-driver’s titles after Pitchford missed rounds in both years, and Vos and Pitchford claimed Nissan’s ninth and last championship in 2009.

Quelle: Nissan

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