|ABSA 2010: Surprises aplenty on Special Vehicle Prologue at Magalies 400.|
The Paul Simon/Art Garfunkel song "Slip Sliding Away" would be an apt refrain for today’s Donaldson Prologue to decide Special Vehicle category start positions for Saturday’s RFS Magalies 400 at Tarlton International Raceway.
The event is the final race of the season in the South African Absa Off Road Championship, and will also decide the overall championship. Heavy midweek rain turned sections of the route into a quagmire and the prologue produced some of the strangest results of the season.
The two crews fighting for the championship will start 37th and 39th on the road after being among early starters who ran into problems at a river crossing, and on slippery sections of the route. Championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau (Total Porter) will start 27th and two places behind them will be championship rivals Kallie and Quintin Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT.
Variawa and Rousseau were further hampered by a bizarre incident when a guinea fowl flew into the car and was trapped under Variawa’s legs. The pair were travelling at speed when Rousseau managed to evict the bird but, at the same time, threw his route guide out the car.
The pair finished the prologue on the GPS navigation system and route markers but did not blame the incident for their lowly finish position. Along with other frontrunners in Special Vehicles they were caught out by a river crossing and slippery steep gradients.
The fastest time went to Class P crew Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson, in the Regent Racing Jimco, who were over a minute ahead of premier Class A pair Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn in the White Star Racing BAT. In another surprise Class B crew Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Raysonics Zarco) completed the top three.
"It was a crazy afternoon," said Variawa. "It was a comedy of errors and Siegfried and I had a good laugh afterwards. It has certainly thrown the cat among the pigeons where the championship is concerned and whatever tactics were formulated before the prologue are literally out the window."
The first of the more fancied crews home were reigning drivers champion Evan Hutchison and Darryl Curtis in the Motorite Rev1 4x4. They were followed by another Class P crew in Marius and Jolinda Fourie in the BHP BAT, and newcomer Guy Henley and Warwick Goosen in the Century Racing BAT running in Class A.
KwaZulu-Natal pair Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing SVR) and Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR2) completed the top eight. Among the non finishers were flyers Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3), Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT), Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and Free Stater David White having his first outing in a Class A car in the Ruwacon BAT.
The Labuscagne’s led Class B by a huge margin ahead of recently crowned drivers champion Bes Bezuidenhout and son Etienne . The Adenco BAT crew trailed the Labuscagne’s by around 17 minutes.
In Class P it was Rutherford/Lawrenson who led from the Fourie’s and Corbett/Balzer. The lower class cars are going to be under pressure at the start and any rain overnight will make matters even more interesting.
The race starts at 08h30 at Tarlton International Raceway with the designated service point also at the complex. Public entrance to Tarlton and spectator viewing points along the route is free of charge.
2010/11/20 | 12:48 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE