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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: Sun City 400 a test of Character for Special Vehicles.

The Sun City 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship on July 24 and 25 will be a test of character for leading Special Vehicle category crews. The Pilanesberg race represents the start of the second half of the season and, for various reasons, the top crews will be put to the test on what is traditionally one of the toughest events of the year. While Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the impressive Motorite Revo1 4x4, have a tight hold on the championship they are not yet out of the woods.

The Motorite crew have three wins - one of them fortuitous - and a second but championships have been lost from better positions than the one they currently occupy. There were also signs on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race that other crews are in a position to take pot shots at Hutchison/Bergmann, and have the incentive of knowing that it is a case of having to go for broke over the latter part of the season.

At least half a dozen crews could upset the Motorite applecart. Desert Race winners Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Motorsport Porter) will be high on confidence, and will have in the back of their minds that a similar situation last year saw them make a concerted championship run.

Nick and Ryan Harper (Atlas Copco BAT) are again there or thereabouts, and Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson (Regent Racing BAT) have emerged as potential race winners. Prologue specialists Colin Matthews and Alan Smith have pace but need to start finishing events and the same applies to team-mates Mark Corbett/Rudi Balzer in the Century Property Development CR1 4x4.

Class A rookies Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Mountain Dew Porter) have opened a few eyes this season and are learning with every outing. The Sullwald teams, Kallie and son Quintin (Sullwald Racing BAT) and Herman and son Wichard (Sullwald Racing Zarco) are looking strong after dodgy starts to the year, and KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell, in the new SVR, could be dark horses.

Then there are the likes of Atang Makgekgenene, again partnered by Zimbabwe rally navigator Phil Archenoul in a Porter, and Naeem Moosajee and Mohammad Moultson in the Tyre Rack Porter. Both crews are capable of podium finishes and provide proof, if it was needed, of the depth of talent in Class A.

Also back in action will be Mohammad and Fazal Noble, in another Porter, and along with regional championship runners the Sun City 400 has drawn a massive entry of over 80 cars.

A win in Botswana has taken Cape crew Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar, in the Orange Tree BAT, to the top of the Class B championship. The Toyota 1000 Desert Race win will also have provided du Toit and Pienaar with a massive confidence booster, and the onus is now on other teams to come up with the results that will keep them in the championship race.

Bez and Deon Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) and the Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew (Zarco) both need good results and will be well aware of the situation. Other teams that could come into contention include Simon Beckett, now partnered by Tim Curtis in the Century Property Development BAT, and Alistair Stubbs and former SA champion Marc de Chalain in a Viper.

Stubbs and de Chalain make their first appearance of the season, but have plenty of experience. Their appearance adds a touch of spice to what could emerge as a tight Class B battle.

Class P could mirror Class A in terms of uncertainty and close racing. It is a category that is now ultra competitive with four or five teams all in with a chance. Reigning champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) have won twice and still lead the championship standings. Behind them there is a tie between Botswana winners David and Gary White (Ruwacon BAT), and impressive rookies Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the KEC BAT, with little to choose between the three crews.

KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thompson and James Watson (Zarco) also come into the equation along with former Class B champions Jan and Hendrik Kraaij (Keymax BAT) who missed the trip to Botswana. Glen and Rob Gibson (Gibson Racing BAT) also had a good run on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, and the likes of Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Aceco ZA) would like to come up with good results after a disappointing season.

Also in the mix will be Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire who make a welcome return to racing in a Regent Racing Jimco, and veteran Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen in the futuristic looking Century Property Development CR2. There is no shortage of experience among the two crews and they add to a Class P mix that is now mouthwatering.

2009/07/21 | 13:55 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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