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ABSA 2010: Special Vehicle category wide open on Toyota Dealer 400.





The pin and blindfold method will be as good a way as any for those wanting to pick Special Vehicle winners at the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, in Mpumalanga on April 16 and 17. The field in the premier Class A category is overflowing with quality with half a dozen or more crews having the credentials to win. It is a healthy situation for the sport and adds extra interest to an event brought forward from its normal October slot.

Former South African champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, in the Team Total Porter, got their season off to a perfect start by winning the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape. They would be the first, however, to admit the quality that runs through the field.

There is no doubt Variawa and Rousseau will again be there or thereabouts, but it looks unlikely that a single crew will emerge to dominate the series. Reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann (Motorite BAT), without the advantage of last year’s four-wheel drive Revo1, will be among the half a dozen or so crews capable of winning, but it is consistency that will probably win this year’s championship.

Hutchison and Bergmann got off to a solid start in the Western Cape but all the top contenders will be wary of Century Racing pair Colin Matthews and Alan Smith. Their second place in the Western Cape sounded an ominous warning to other crews, and a maiden win beckons for Matthews and Smith.

The new Sullwald Racing SVR in the hands of Herman and Wichard Sullwald showed plenty of potential on its debut, and the Sullwald challenge will be strengthened by the return of former champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in a rebuilt BAT. They might be a little ring rusty but cannot be left out of the equation.

Brandon Harcus, with reigning Production Car co-drivers’ champion Ralph Pitchford deputising for Scott Watson who has golf commitments, also comes into the picture in the new JMR Fleet Management BAT. Harcus is always full of aggression and could make a few waves.

Nick and Ryan Harper (Atlas Copco BAT) will want to bounce back after rolling in the Western Cape while Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) have the pace to upset the applecart. Naeem Moosajee/Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis Jimco), Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT) and the ever improving Boela Botes and Johann Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) could also throw a spanner in the works.

With so many potential winners some intriguing contests are sure to develop. As for picking winners you pay your money and you take your choice. Reigning champion Derick du Toit (Orange Tree BAT) will again be the Class B favourite. Du Toit will be partnered by Rod Jeffrey who will be his second co-driver In two events.

The Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew, in a Zarco are joined by Simon Beckett and Steve Harris in the Century Racing BAT and Alastair and Hamish Stubbs in the Stafix Racing Viper. Beckett/Harris and the Stubbs brothers have plenty of experience and some good battles are on the cards.

The race is something of a reunion for the Stubbs brothers with Hamish now resident in Australia. He is in South Africa on a short holiday and the pair has grabbed the opportunity to go racing together.

Good battles are also on the cards in Class P where Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (KEC BAT) will be looking to build on their Adenco 400 win. Their job will be a little easier with Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout (Adenco BAT) sidelined after blowing a motor on the Adenco 400, but there is plenty of other opposition to keep van Staden/Rossouw honest.

Veterans Richard Schilling/Chris Davies (Aceco) and Archie Rutherford/Craig Doubtfire (Regent Racing Jimco) came up with good Cape results while Mark Corbett/Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR3) and Ernest Corbett/Warwick Goosen (Century Racing CR2) will fancy their chances. Bodo Bertholdt/Phillip Herselman (Atlas Copco BAT), Nic Goslar/Richard Carolin (Men’s Health International Zarco) and Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clint McNamara (Zarco Magnum) will all be looking at bouncing back after disappointing starts to the season.

The race will again start outside Lydenburg Toyota in Voortrekker Street at 08:00 on Saturday, 17 April with the finish and the designated service point at the Lydenburg Ruby Club. The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for the race will start at 11:30 from the Lydenburg Rugby Club on Friday, April 16.

As usual the race is spectator friendly with numerous vantage points within easy reach of Lydenburg. Access to the start/finish, the designated service point and all spectator areas is free of charge.

2010/04/13 | 12:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE











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