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ABSA 2009: Variawa/Rousseau take second Toyoto 1000 Desert victory.

Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau were given a Father’s Day present when they won the Special Vehicle category at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended on Sunday.

For Variawa and Rousseau, in the Total Motorsport Porter, it was their second successive victory on what was round four of this year’s Absa Off Road Championship. It was only on the final lap of a race that saw only eight of the original 28 starters make it to the finish, that Variawa and Rousseau nosed ahead of Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann in the Motorite Revo1 4x4.

The pair fought out a wonderful last day battle with former South African champions Hutchison and Bergmann looking for their fourth win in a row this season. Only seconds separated the two cars at the final designated service point, and a puncture for the Motorite pair 150 kilometres into the final lap was eventually the decider.

"It was a great fight and that was probably the toughest Desert Race that I have ever done," said Variawa who battled all weekend with flu. "The final lap was very technical and we did not think we could stay with the Motorite car. "The puncture clinched it for us but it was tough on Evan and Achim."

The final podium place went to former winners Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, who battled with a clutch problem. They eventually edged out the steady Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson in the Regent Racing BAT who came up with another steady performance.

Local hero Atang Makgekgenene, in a Porter, and a former SA champion and Desert Race winner, rounded out the top five. Makgekgenene was partnered by Zimbabwe rally navigator Philip Archenoul who was competing in his first ever off road race. "It is not for the faint of heart," said Archenoul, "but I enjoyed it. I would like to do more races with Atang but I have African Rally Championship commitments and we’ll see what happens."

A fine performance saw brothers David and Gary White finish sixth overall in the Ruwacon BAT and take Class P where they were the only finishers. Among the casualties were current champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT), KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thompson and James Watson (Zarco Lite) and Johan van Staden and James Rossouw in the KEC BAT.

There was also an impressive performance from Cape Town crew Derick du Toit and Ian Pienaar, in the Orange Tree BAT, who took the Class B honours .It was their first national championship win.

High profile casualties over the weekend 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 on day one. Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing Zarco) were also casualties with the unfortunate pair ending up spending the night in the bush.

"The locals were very friendly," said Wichard. "We built a big fire next to the car but it was very cold. Reigning SA champions Kallie and Quinton Sullwald (Sullwald Racing BAT) were day two casualties along with Jimmy Zahos and Stephan Coetzee (Mountain Dew BAT) who started the day in second place.

2009/06/23 | 15:50 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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