|ABSA 2010: Leaders aim for consolidation on 4x4 Mega World 400.|
Consolidation will be the name of the game for Special Vehicle championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau at the 4x4 Mega World 400 at Carnival City (South Africa) on August 27 and 28.
Variawa and Rousseau, in the Team Total Porter, take into the race a 19 point lead over Class P crew Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) and will be keen to widen the gap. The Team Total pair have won twice this season but a good points haul will be top of the agenda at Carnival City with another win a bonus.
Van Staden and Rossouw made history earlier this season when they became the first Class P crew to win an event overall. The right set of circumstances could conspire to see a Class P crew win again, but one cannot see the Class A brigade again slipping up.
That gives Variawa/Rousseau another string to their bow with Sun City 400 winners Kallie and Quinton Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) their nearest Class A challengers. The Sullwald’s have a 25 point deficit to make up but the Sun City performance produced ominous signs that they will be strong championship contenders over the rest of the season.
Other potential winners like reigning drivers’ champion Evan Hutchison and Darryl Curtis (Motorite BAT), Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) and Nick Harper and Kevin Hume (Atlas Copco BAT) cannot afford to let the championship leaders further stretch the gap. Although the 4x4 Mega World 400 takes competitors into the second half of the season, those doing the chasing in the championship are almost at the point of no return.
Also in contention on the East Rand event will be KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing SVR), Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT) and the Century Racing BAT pair of Colin Matthews and Alan Smith. Matthews and Smith will be out in the Century Racing CR3 previously campaigned by Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer in Class P, with the car converted back to Class A specifications.
A second Century Racing entry will also be out in Class A. Ernest Corbett has retired from racing and Warwick Goosen will now join Guy Henley in a Jimco.
The colourful Jimmy Zahos (Cobalt Racing Porter), reunited with co-driver Stefan Coetzee, is another driver with the potential to win races while Polokwane crew Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya will be looking for a return to form in the Maxxis TyreRack Porter. Bevan Bertholdt and Danie Stassen (lab88 BAT) will also be looking to bounce back from a disappointing Sun City 400, but showed plenty of potential.
Apart from the usual suspects the Sun City 400 produced signs that less fancied crews are ready for breakthrough results. The Parker brothers, Brett and Steve, came up with a useful first outing in the ex Moosajee Jimco, newcomers Neil Meyer and Leon Muller (Zarco Magnum) also came up with an impressive showing and Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn (White Star Racing/Bokomo BAT) will be aiming at another top 10 finish.
A surprise entry – KZN star Lance Trethewey in the LT Earthmovers BAT – could also pose problems for national regulars. Trethewey picked up a top five on the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 and will be joined by off road motorcycle star Spencer Kriel.
A win on the Sun City 400 took veteran Bes Bezuidenhout and daughter-in-law Lindie, in the Adenco BAT into the joint championship lead in Class B. Former Production Vehicle stalwart Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra make a second appearance in the Raysonics Zarco, and will be among contenders hoping to improve on reliability records this season.
The Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew, have yet to finish an event this year while Simon Beckett and Steve Harris, in the Century Racing BAT, have picked up three ‘did not finish’ results in a row. The championship is wide open and no crew has as yet stamped their authority on proceedings.
There has been a shake-up in Class P. With Corbett senior’s retirement son Mark and Rudi Balzer will take over the Century Racing CR2 with the futuristic car already a winner.
In another interesting development former rally star Etienne Lourens will take over from veteran Bodo Bertholdt in the Atlas Copco BAT. The Atlas Copco team is looking to bring new talent into off road racing and Lourens, paired with Philip Herselman on this event, could make an immediate impact.
While van Staden and Rossouw will start clear favourites in Class P there are plenty of crews keeping them honest. Brothers Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) are among the potential winners with a strong Sun City showing bringing Swaziland pair John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) into the picture.
Consistency has taken Archie Rutherford, out for the first time with new co-driver Jacques le Roux in the Regent Racing Jimco, into second place in the championship, and veterans Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Aceco) have huge amounts of experience going for them. The appearance of Lourens simply adds a little spice to the category.
The Carnival City complex will be home to race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service area. Public access to these areas will be free with the Donaldson Prologue scheduled to start at 11:30 on Friday, August 27, and the race at 08:00 on Saturday, August 28.
The race route is spectator friendly with numerous viewing areas within 40 kilometres of Carnival City. Public access to these areas is also free with a request from the organisers for enthusiasts to respect the environment.
2010/08/24 | 10:44 CET | Editor: MR/HS/FORTUNE