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This is the single-news section of the news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

ABSA 2009: Hutchison take Special Vehicle lead at Toyota 1000 Desert.

The Special Vehicle category in the South African Toyota 1000 Desert Race is poised for a tight finish on Sunday after a drama filled day one of what is round four of the South African Absa Off Road Championship.

At the overnight halt less than two minutes separated the first four cars with Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite Revo1 4x4, holding a tenuous 35 second lead over surprise package Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee in the Mountain Dew Porter. Hutchison and Bergmann won the first three races of the season and lead the overall and Class A championships by a comfortable margin.

Third, another 25 seconds off the pace, were last year’s winners Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau in the Total Porter. Fourth were 2007 winners Kallie and Quintin Sullwald, in the Sullwald Racing BAT, who are the reigning South African champions. The top five were rounded out by former winners Nick and Ryan Harper in the Atlas Copco BAT. The Harper’s, however, had slipped to just over 12 minutes behind the leaders.

The Toyota 1000 Desert Race is the only marathon event on the Absa Off Road Championship calendar, and a tough and surprisingly wet route decimated the field. Only 11 Special Vehicle category crews made it to the overnight halt.

Hutchison and Bergmann started 14th on the road and 12th in Class A and at the designated service point (DSP) midway through the day had a lead of just over three minutes over Variawa and Rousseau.

Hutchison and Bergmann were experiencing clutch problems, Variawa/Rousseau had brake problems and Zahos/Coetzee had clutch and power steering woes.

On the second loop Zahos, a former quad bike racer, and Coetzee made up four places and were in a position to put plenty of pressure on Hutchison/Bergmann tomorrow. Much the same applies to Variawa/Rousseau and the Sullwald’s who have not had the happiest of seasons so far.

High profile casualties included prologue winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the Century Racing BAT, and team-mates Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR1) with both cars falling by the wayside before the DSP. Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing Zarco) also fell by the wayside along with Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell in the new Gibson Racing SVR.

A fine performance saw brothers David and Gary White into eighth overall overnight and leading Class P. It was their best performance of the season and they had a lead of around 40 minutes over the father and son pair of Glen and Rob Gibson in the Gibson Racing BAT.

Another good performance saw Cape Town crew Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar come first in Class B. The Cape crew were a healthy 11 minutes ahead of local hero Atang Makgekgenene, a former winner of the race, and Zimbabwean rally co-driver Philip Archenoul who was having his first outing in an off road car.

Race conditions favoured the Special Vehicle entries and eight of the top 10 at the overnight halt were from the category. The race ends at the Game City complex in Gaborone tomorrow afternoon with the first cars expected at around 3pm.

2009/06/23 | 11:46 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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