|ABSA 2011: A family affair in SA´s Special Vehicle Championship finals 2011.|
It will be a family affair - with an outsider running a little interference - when the Special Vehicle championship goes all the way to the wire on the RFS Magalies 400, the final event in the South African Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway on November 11 and 12.
Three drivers - two of them brothers - will be chasing the drivers’ championship with two cousins sitting alongside their fathers fighting it out in the co-driver title race. In an intriguing situation reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) go into the decider with a 16,5 point lead over Hermann and Wichard Sullwald in the Sullwald Racing SVR.
The odd man out in the equation is former champion Evan Hutchison, in the 4x4 Motorite Revo, who also has a shot at the drivers’ championship. Hutchison is 16 points adrift of the leaders and just half a point clear of the second Sullwald team.
Hutchison’s regular co-driver, Danie Stassen, missed the 4x4 Mega World 400 which Hutchison won with stand-in Megan Verlaque and that scuppered the Mpumalanga car dealer’s championship hopes. With Stassen out of the equation the co-driver championship is a straight contest between the Sullwald cousins.
The reigning champions have won twice this season with the second Sullwald team and Hutchison each winning once. The other race wins this season have all come from Class P entries with Colin Matthews/Alan Smith (Century Racing CR2), Richard Fuller/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco BAT) and more recently Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT) have all upstaged the Class A fraternity.
The leads Kallie and Quintin Sullwald take into the race could prove to be worth their weight in gold. The Elegant Fuel BAT pair will also have the advantage of knowing that an outright win is not a prerequisite for winning the championship.
It is an intriguing situation with a number of mathematical permutations that could come into play. The bottom line is that the status quo provides the excitement and uncertainty that goes hand in hand with a championship that has gone all the way to the wire.
Adding to the uncertainty is the role that other teams could play in the final destiny of the championship. Crews like Nick and Ryan Harper (Motorite BAT), Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) have had disappointing seasons and would like to end with a flourish.
Then there are the likes of Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl (Sizanani Jimco) and brothers David and Gary White, in the Ruwacon Racing BAT, who have come on strongly as the season has worn on. Parker/van Zyl have put together a string of good results and the Whites won the Donaldson Prologue on the recent Human Auto 400 in the Free State.
And, of course, there is the Class P brigade. Their championship is not yet over with Human Auto 400 winners Marius and Jolinda Fourie chasing Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson, in the Regent Racing Jimco, who won this event last year.
Three of the seven races run so far this season have been won by Class P crews and history dictates that there could be a repeat dose. Sun City 400 winners Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco BAT) come into the picture and the Class P fight, in terms of their own championship, and their influence on the race and the overall championship could be significant.
In terms of the overall championship betting men might be tempted to have a small wager on Kallie and Quintin Sullwald. Picking a race winner is a far more difficult proposition and one best left to the bold or the foolhardy.
There is one other championship issue to be sorted out, and it also has family connotations. Keith Makenete (Zarco) has clinched the drivers’ title ahead of veterans Coetzee Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) and Wolf-Peter Pfumfei who are separated by half a point.
On the co-driver front Makenete’s brother Andrew has a 12,5 point lead over Lauscagne’s daughter Sandra. The Makenetes and the Labuscagnes have had a friendly rivalry going all season, and this also goes to the wire.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located at the sprawling Tarlton International Raceway complex near Krugersdorp, and public entry to these areas is free of charge. There will also be no charge for entry to spectator points along the route, and spectator guides will be available at race headquarters.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine race grid positions will start at 12:30 on November 11 and the race at 08:30 on November 12.
2011/11/09 | 13:47 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE