|ABSA 2010: Special Vehicle category on Sun City 400 is wide open.|
The quality and depth of the Special Vehicle field points to a wide open Sun City 400, round four of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, in the Pilanesberg on July 16 and 17.
A lengthy break, courtesy of the soccer World Cup, also adds an extra element to the race with crews eager to again tackle what is always one of the toughest events on the Absa calendar. The race also represents the halfway mark in the season which is now at a stage when championship hopefuls need to put up their hands and be counted.
Former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) currently have a comfortable 14 point cushion at the top of the overall championship. This is courtesy of two wins so far this season and while Variawa/Rousseau will again be among the favourites, there are a string of other crews who have winning credentials.
Among them is reigning champion Evan Hutchison (Motorite BAT) who last year won this event with Achim Bergmann in the Motorite Revo1 4x4. This time around Hutchison will be partnered by off road motorcycle star Darryl Curtis and will be hoping for a repeat of last years result. Hutchison and Bergmann last year edge out Variawa/Rousseau, who picked up a late puncture, and would be quite happy to see history repeat itself.
Former champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald will want to make a good impression on new sponsors Elegant Fuel and will be out to improve on last years third place. Class P leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) currently lie second in the overall championship. This mainly due to their historic win on the Toyota Dealer 400, and one cannot see the Class A crews coming unstuck in the Pilanesberg.
The Sullwald brothers, Herman and Kallie, partnered respectively by sons Wichard and Quintin also come into the equation. Herman and Wichard have had their moments in the SVR, while Kallie and Quintin bounced back into form on the Atlas Copco Sugarbelt 400 and both crews are due a win. Nick Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, is also due for a good result after a character building start to the season but this time round will be partnered by service crew member Kevin Hume. An off road bike injury keeps Ryan Harper on the sidelines.
Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing SVR) are capable of an upset, and Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing BAT) will again be fighting the reliability bogey that has plagued them in recent seasons.
Nardus Alberts, now partnered by son Louis in the Wrapsa BAT, has a couple of wins to his credit and Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis/Tyre Rack Porter) will be looking for a return to form. Jimmy Zahos/Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and Bevan Bertholdt/Danie Stassen, now in a BAT, ooze aggression and could also ruffle a few feathers.
Lesotho crew Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn (BAT) will be looking for a good run with newcomers Guy Henley/Geoffrey Crow (Century Racing Jimco) and Neil Meyer/Leon Muller, in a Zarco Magnum, unknown quantities at this stage. Crews behind Variawa./Rousseau on the points log will know they cannot let the pair creep further ahead, and the stage is set for an interesting tussle.
Reigning champion Derrick du Toit gives the Sun City race a miss and this throws open Class B. Among the contenders are the Makenete brothers Keith and Andrew, in a Zarco, the Century Racing BAT pair of Simon Beckett and Steve Harris and Johan de Klerk and Louis Pretorius in a Zarco.
Veteran Bes Bezuidenhout makes his first appearance of the season in the Adenco BAT with daughter-in-law Lindie sitting alongside him. Also back in action will be former Production Car stalwart Coetzee Labuscagne who will be sharing a Zarco with daughter Sandra.
It is an interesting mix. There is not much to choose between the various crews and it is likely to boil down to a question of reliability. The Class P battle is as appetising as the Class A confrontation. There is a blend of youth and experience and it is a given that a contingent of Class P runners will work their way into the top 10.
The fight between van Staden/Rossouw and the Bezuidenhout brothers, Johan and Deon, in the Adenco BAT, is mouth watering. Brothers Gary and David White (Ruwacon BAT) are also back in harness while Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer, in the Century Racing CR3 are starting to show signs of challenging for wins.
Also a part of the mix is a quartet of veterans who bring loads of experience, and some friendly rivalry, to the party. Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Aceco), Archie Rutherford/Craig Doubtfire (Regent Racing Jimco), Bodo Bertholdt/Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco BAT) and Ernest Corbett/Warwick Goosen (Century Racing CR2) are all tough competitors.
Race control, the start/finish and the designated service point are all located at the Sun City complex. The race is spectator friendly and there are 13 viewing points in close proximity of Sun City with public access to these areas, along with the start/finish and designated service point, free of charge.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions will start at 11.30 on Friday, July 16 and the race at 08:00 on Saturday, July 17.
2010/07/13 | 14:53 CET | Editor: MR/HS/FORTUNE