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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: Matthews/Smith take Special Vehicle prologue win.

The Century Racing BAT pair of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith today won the Special Vehicle category prologue at the South African Toyota 1000 Desert Race by the narrowest of margins. The prologue determines start positions for the race proper with Matthews and Smith edging out surprise package team Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee, in the Mountain Dew Porter, by just three seconds. Zahos is a former quad bike racer in his first season of Special vehicle competition.

The top three were rounded out by Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, who were a further one minute and 17 seconds off the pace. The Harpers are previous winners of the event with Mathews/Smith and Zahos/Coetzee looking for maiden national championship wins.

Special Vehicle category cars completely dominated the tough 70 kilometre prologue taking the first 11 places. Former South African champion Hannes Grobler, a multiple Desert Race winner, and Juan Mohr (Donaldson Nissan Navara) and Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) shared the same time at the top of the Production Vehicle leaderboard.

"We had a clean run with no problems," said Zahos. "We still have a long way to go but this result has helped our confidence."

The top five were rounded out by Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer in the Century Racing CR1 4x4, and Natal crew Don Thompson and James Watson who turned in a blistering performance to lead the Class P contingent in a Zarco Lite. Corbett is a former winner of the Desert Race with Watson standing in for Don Blakey who normally sits alongside Thompson.

There were also strong prologue performances for former winners Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) and Kallie and Quinton Sullwald (Sullwald Racing BAT, who were sixth and seventh. The Sullwald’s won in 2007 and Variawa/Rousseau won last year.

Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, who have won the first three races of the season and leading overall and Class A championships by a long way, had a difficult day and were 12th fastest among the Special Vehicle brigade. The odometer stopped working soon after the start and the pair face an uphill battle during the race.

Cape Town crew Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar, in the Orange Tree BAT, set the pace in Class B. They were around four minutes ahead of John Telford and Stewart van Graan in the Calcamite BAT.

Thompson and Watson were 18 seconds ahead of nearest challengers David and Gary White, in the Ruwacon BAT, at the top of the Class P timesheets. Next up were Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the KEC BAT, who are also in their first season of national off road racing.

Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT), the Class P leaders with two wins to their credit so far this season, were also in the wars. A gearbox problem cost them wads of time and the pair will start around eight minutes behind Thompson and Watson.

The race starts at 8am tomorrow at the Game City complex in Gaborone. The finish is back at Game City on Sunday afternoon.

2009/06/23 | 10:54 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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