Kennedy/Venter Tighten Hold On Northern Regions Championships

Werner Kennedy and Thinus Venter tightened their hold on the Special Vehicle overall and Class P titles when they won the Beesfees 250, the fourth round of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship, in Stella over the weekend.  Kennedy and Venter, in an Aceco, came in ahead of Francois Smit/Craig Galvin (Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Zarco) and Andre and Zelma Beer, in a BAT, with all three crews competing in Class P.  Going into the Beesfees event Kennedy/Venter held a 17 point lead over the Beers in both the overall and Class P championships.

Fourth overall were former national champions Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Toyota Hilux) who were the first of the Production Vehicle category competitors.  That also gave them the Class E win, and saw the pair take full advantage of the absence of championship leaders Dylan Venter/Vince Van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) to climb up the championship ladder.  Fifth overall and first in Class B were Marthinus and Tiaan Le Roux, in a Sandmaster.

With John Boxhoorn sitting out the event the le Roux combination also took full advantage to tighten their hold on the Class B championship.  Fourth in Class P were veteran former national champion Giel Nel and Ferdie Pieterse in the Zarco Truggy.  With Tony and Michael Gouveia (BAT) and Lichtenburg 250 winners Francois Conradie/Jaco Van Aardt (BAT) among the non-finishers, Nel and Pieterse also move up a notch or two in the championship.

For the Gouveias it was a make or break event but the bad luck that has dogged them all season again reared its head.  Broken sideshafts saw the Benoni based Gouveias and Conradie/Van Aardt retire.  Another veteran in Wolf-Peter Pfumfei (Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Sandmaster/WPP) came home in second place in Class B, but went into the race trailing the Le Roux pair by 60 points.
Despite losing time via a puncture third went to lady driver Suma Smith, in the Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Sandmaster, ahead of team-mate John Evans.  In the Production Vehicle category Putter and Claasens put behind them patchy early season form to score their first Production Vehicle and Class E win of the season.  They were followed home in the overall and Class E results by Andries Mynhardt/Hein Kruger (Ford Ranger) and Bertus Kriel/Anton Muller, in another Ford Ranger, who fought back after a disappointing qualifying race that determined start positions for the main event.

Lichtenburg 250 winners David Huddy and Mike Fehrsen (Nissan Hardbody) were trying to put Putter/Claasens under pressure when they blew the motor and were forced to retire.  Fuel starvation problems also hampered Rob Reid/Bodo Schwegler (Mitsubishi Pajero), and they were forced to settle for fourth in Class E and fifth overall behind Class D winners Diederik and Rikus Hattingh in a Toyota Hilux.  Second in Class D were championship leaders Andre Geldenhuys and Victor Fincham in an Isuzu KB.
That was enough to see them increase their championship lead ahead of Reagan Austin/Warren Vos (Toyota Hilux), who were among those who failed to see out the distance.  In the Clubman’s category Thomas Hodgman and JP Strauss, in an Isuzu, led home Gert Steyn and Johan Burger in a Toyota Hilux.  Steyn/Burger took class honours on the Lichtenburg 250, but could not make it two in a row.

The next event for Northern Regions competitors sees them head back to North West province for the Vryburg 250 on September 12.  The event will run in conjunction with the Vryburg Endurance, which forms part of the national Donaldson Cross Country Championship on September 11 and 12.
Photo credit: Frik Kraamwinkel