|ABSA 2010: Variawa/Rousseau on a Mission in Botswana in September.|
Former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau will be on a mission on the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round six of the Absa Off Road Championship, in Botswana from September 24 to 26.
Apart from bagging a hat-trick of wins the Team Total Porter crew will also be looking at defending a tenuous six point lead at the top of the Special Vehicle championship. The anomalies in off road scoring between the overall and class championships have already seen Variawa/Rousseau relegated to second place in the Class A stakes by Kallie and Quinton Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT.
Also still very much in the overall championship picture are Class P leaders Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the Atlas Copco BAT, and 4x4 Mega World 400 winners Herman and Wichard Sullwald in the Sullwald Racing SVR. Only 14 points separate the top four crews and the Botswana outing could turn into a make or break race.
The Sullwald family, after a one-two on the 4x4 Mega World 400, will be high on confidence, while Variawa and Rousseau will be aware of the consequences of a third non finish this year. It adds up to a fascinating duel up front made even more interesting by the demands made on crews and machinery by the only marathon event on the Absa championship calendar.
There is also no shortage of potential challengers. Reigning drivers’ champion Evan Hutchison and Darryl Curtis are due a good result in the Motorite BAT, while 2006 winner Nick Harper, again paired with Kevin Hume in the Atlas Copco BAT, relishes this type of race.
A dodgy reliability record is against Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3), and flyers like Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee, in the Cobalt Racing Porter, will need to carefully pace themselves on an event that is seldom won on day one. Pretoria crew Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT) would look to be good outside bets, but consistency has been a problem this season.
Bevan Bertholdt and Danie Stassen (lab88 BAT) fall into the same category as the Cobalt Racing pair, and tactics could play a leading role in their progress or lack thereof. At the other end of the scale Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis/TyreRack Porter) will also relish the two day format as will Botswana resident Keith du Toit and Lesotho co-driver Ashley Thorn in the White Star Racing BAT.
Another Botswana crew, Mohammed and Faizal Noble (Porter), could put local knowledge to good use while a couple of rookie Class A crews have the ability to spring surprises. Steve and Brett Parker, in the ex Moosajee Jimco have produced two impressive performances in a row, and Neil Meyer and Leon Muller have also done well in a Zarco Magnum.
The Class P battle looks to be equally enticing although van Staden and Rossouw will be installed as the early favourites. Brothers Johan and Deon Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, are also due a good result while Archie Rutherford partnered by Mike Lawrenson, in the Regent Racing Jimco, will be brimful of confidence after his 4x4 Mega World 400 win.
Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco Magnum) will be a real threat while Mark Corbett, who won overall in 2000 in a Jimco, and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR2) will fancy their chances. There will also be plenty of interest focussed on Marius Fourie, in a BAT, who graduates into national competition after some impressive Northern regions championship performances, who will be accompanied by farther Andre.
Two other previous overall winners in Richard Schilling and Richard Carolin will also be hoping to relive former glories. Schilling will be out with Keith Solomon who sits in for Chris Davies in an Aceco, while Carolin again teams up with Nic Goslar in the Men’s Health International Zarco.
On the Class B front veteran Bes Bezuidenhout and daughter-in-law Lindie (Adenco BAT) have taken a clear lead in the championship. They will be looking for a third win on the trot with the main opposition coming from Keith and Andrew Makenete (Zarco) and a pair of veteran drivers in former champion Giel Nel and Coetzee Labuscagne.
Nel and Jaco Jonck are likely to compete over the rest of the season in a Zarco Truggy, while Labuscagne will team up with daughter Sandra. There is certainly no lack of experience in the category!
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service point will this year all be located at Kumakwane which is 25 kilometres west of Gaborone. The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions will start at 12:00 on Friday, September 24 and will run over a 72 kilometre route.
The race will start at 08:00 on Saturday, September 25, and day one survivors will face another 08:00 start on Sunday, September 26.
2010/09/21 | 11:21 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/FORTUNE