The Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody off road racing team, supported by Sasol, Ferodo and Champion, finds itself in the Western Cape on April 22/23 and is aiming for a third successive victory in the third running of the Nissan Dealer 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship.

“Off-road racing continues to grow in popularity and we are committed to playing our part in growing the sport, which is why we are pleased to be the sponsors of the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, opening round of the 2005 championship, as well as the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Darling area this weekend,” says head of Nissan sales and marketing, Roel de Vries.

The two-car Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody team is headed by last year’s drivers’ champion Hannes Grobler and navigator Francois Jordaan, with former multiple national off road and enduro motorcycle champion Alfie Cox and Ralph Pitchford in the second 3,5-litre V6 pickup.

The two crews gave a good account of themselves in the season-opening Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu Natal last month, where local hero Cox thrilled KZN fans by leading the race for the first 90 minutes before being slowed by a faulty battery and finally succumbing to a broken gearbox oil cooler pump.

Grobler and Jordaan, who took over the lead from their team-mates, were unlucky to suffer a flat wheel and were passed by the eventual winners, Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in the Ford Ranger V6.

“Neil and Kenny showed us that they are once again going to be a force to be reckoned with this year, but we’re not happy losing a race by such a small margin as a result of a flat tyre. We aim to get them back in Darling,” said Hannes with his customary chuckle.

The Ford pair will also be watching out for Cox and Pitchford, who surprised many with their fastest time in the Nissan Sugarbelt prologue in their first appearance in the big, South African designed and built Hardbody after winning last year’s class D championship in the Arnold Chatz Cars Hardbody.

Cox, who is showing the same speed and determination on four wheels that he is renowned for on two wheels, with eight Dakar Rallies under his kidney belt, was so excited about the powerful Nissan that all he could say immediately after winning the Sugarbelt prologue was “It’s awesome – just like Play Station!”.

Glyn Hall, general manager of the Midrand-based Nissan Motorsport team, was philosophical after the Nissan Sugarbelt. “We were in with a good chance of another one-two result, but things just didn’t go our way after half distance.

The team has stripped and rebuilt both cars for the Cape event and we’re confident we will be challenging for our third successive victory in this event.” Grobler and Richard Leeke won in 2003 and Giniel de Villiers and Jordaan won last year.

Backing the official Nissan team will be a strong group of privateers in Nissan Hardbody pickups in classes D (for near-standard six-cylinder production vehicles) and E (for near-standard four-cylinder production vehicles).

Contesting class D will be the Gearbox Services Racing Team’s Kodak-backed Hardbody in the hands of Coetzee Labuschagne and Johan Gerber, top motoring journalist Deon Schoeman and Jan Sime in their Topcar/Autopage/Du Pont Hardbody, Polokwane businessman Arnold du Plessis and Johan Knox in the BB Auto Hardbody and brothers Jurie and Andre du Plessis in their BB Auto Hardbody.

Class E contenders are Thomas Rundle and Stavros Yiannakis in the former BB Auto Hardbody, now racing in the colours of Barden Tyre Services.

Original article from Car