|ABSA 2011: Atlas Copco 400 Rally triumph for Sullwald Team in buggy class.|
The father and son team of Hermann and Wichard Sullwald pounded the opposition into submission in battlefield territory to win the Atlas Copco 400, round three of the South African "Absa Off Road Championship".
The Biggarsberg region is home to some of South Africa’s most historic battlefields and the Sullwald’s, in the Sullwald Racing SVR, brought out some heavy artillery to subdue some spirited opposition. The Sullwald’s won with more than six minutes to spare, but behind them just 26 seconds separated the next three cars.
Another father and son combination in Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Motorite BAT, edged out local crews Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing SVR) and Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann (LT Earthmoving BAT) in a blanket finish. Trethewey and Wichmann started in pole position after winning the Donaldson Prologue on Friday, but were finally outgunned.
The result sets up an interesting situation in the Special Vehicle championship. Unofficial scoring sees Herman and Wichard now join Kallie and Quinton Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT), the reigning South African champions, at the top of the overall standings.
To add spice to the situation the Harpers are lurking just two points in arrears. It sets up an explosive shootout at the Toyota 1 000 Desert Race in Botswana which is next on the Absa calendar. The two Sullwald teams slugged it out in the first half of the race. At the halfway mark only 46 seconds separated Herman and Wichard and the reigning champions.
The situation altered when Kallie and Quintin retired early in to the second half of the race with electrical problems. It took all the pressure off the second Sullwald crew who cruised home while an almighty scrap developed behind them.
"It wasn’t an easy race," said Sullwald senior afterwards. "It was a challenging route and we lost all communications after the halfway mark. It made navigating very difficult but Wichard did a great job of keeping us on the right track."
The Harpers had only 19 seconds to spare over Gibson and Campbell after losing precious time at a river crossing. A tractor blocking the road held them up and the final margin was a little too close for comfort.
With Gibson/Campbell and Trethewey/Wichmann separated by just seven seconds the three-way battle provided an exciting climax to the race. Boela Botes and Johann Pretorius, who picked up their second top five finish in a row in the Botes Vervoer BAT, were another three minutes in arrears.
A steady performance took Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson, in the Regent Racing Jimco, into sixth place and gave them the Class P honours. Rutherford and Lawrenson were disappointed with their prologue performance, but the Class P opposition gradually fell away with prologue winners Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco BAT) retiring with a broken clutch.
Class P championship leaders Marius and Jolinda Fourie, in the PHB BAT, and the Century Racing pair of Colin Matthews/Alan Smith were high profile casualties. After failing to finish the prologue the Fourie’s were part of the mass start at the back of the field, but failed to see out the distance while Matthews/Smith retired with gearbox problems.
Former SA champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite Revo 4x4) and another Class P crew, John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco), completed the top eight. After a poor start to the season it was another encouraging result for the Motorite crew who were sixth in Class A.
The testing route took a heavy toll on the Class B contingent with local pair Leon Bothma and Quintin Brand, in an early specification BAT, taking the honours. Championship leader Keith Makenete and brother Andrew (Zarco) and the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) were among those who fell by the wayside.
2011/05/22 | 21:18 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE