|ABSA 2011: Fascinating Special Vehicle Category race in Botswana in June.|
Family feuds and half a dozen or more potential winners add up to a fascinating Special Vehicle category outing on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round four of the South African "Absa Off Road Championship", in Botswana from June 24 to 26.
The only marathon event on the Absa series calendar represents the halfway mark in the championship, and at the end of the year championship hopefuls who miss the boat could point to Botswana as the turning point in their season. At the head of the overall championship there is an intriguing situation with two family crews locked together at the top of the points table, with another family team only two points behind.
Just to muddy the waters a little the three crews are tied together at the top of the premier Class A. Reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) and Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) share the overall lead with another father/son combination in Nick and Ryan Harper (Motorite BAT) just two points in arrears.
The Sullwald crews are flyers while the Harpers take a more circumspect approach to their racing. The contrasts are interesting but the stakes are high with two of the crews - Kallie and Quintin Sullwald and the Harpers - having tasted Toyota Desert Race victory.
The Sullwald’s and the Harpers will be among the pre-race favourites but lined up behind them are any number of potential winners. Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau, reunited in a Varigo Racing BAT, are three-time winners while Mark Corbett, paired with Rudi Balzer in the Century Racing CR4, is also a previous winner.
Evan Hutchison, racing with Danie Stassen in the Motorite Revo 4x4 is a former South African champion, and KwaZulu-Natal pair Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing Porter) will be full of confidence after a podium finish on the Atlas Copco 400 in Dundee. Boela Botes and Johann Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) have come up with a couple of top five finishes this season, and they cannot be left out of the equation.
Jimmy Zahos/Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and Naeem Moosajee/Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis/Tyre Rack Porter) will be dark horses with an interesting entry from former motorcycle star Graham Maclachlan and Vivian Maclachlan in a Connix Koloi. Botswana based Keith du Toit and Lesotho veteran Ashley Thorn (White Star Racing BAT) will also be fancied outsiders along with Free State brothers David and Gary White in the Ruwacon BAT.
A great deal of the clever money will also be on Atlas Copco BAT crew Johan van Staden and James Rossouw. The Pretoria pair have had a disappointing run since joining the Class A ranks, but have the right combination of pace and durability to bounce back in a big way.
There are also a couple of Class P crews who will back themselves to win. Foremost among them are Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3 who started off the season with a win on the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape.
The Class P battle will be a fascinating race within a race with KZN crew Don Thomson and Wayne Foster leading the championship in a Zarco Magnum. Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson (Regent Racing Jimco) took a come from behind win on the Atlas Copco 400, and early championship leaders Marius and Jolinda Fourie (BHP BAT) will want to bounce back from a Dundee disaster.
Swaziland crew John Thompson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) are dangermen along with Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt in the Atlas Copco BAT. A couple of podium finishes this season will also have given Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey a boost in the Men’s Health International Zarco.
Class B stalwarts Keith and Andrew Makenete (Zarco) and Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Raysonics Zarco) will again clash in what is likely to turn out to be a battle of survival between the two crews. KZN crew John Thompson and James Watson (Stafix Viper) and Iain Maclean and Luke Dort will keep the pair honest in a Sandmaster with the marque having a lengthy Toyota Desert Race pedigree.
Race headquarters, the start finish and designated service point will all be located 25 kilometres north-west of Gaborone at the village of Kumakwane. The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions will start at 12:00 on June 24 and both legs of the race on June 25 and June 26 will get underway at 08:00.
The Toyota 1000 Desert Race is now run in conjunction with "The Mantshwabisi" motorcycle and quad race on June 23 and 24 with the new marathon event run over 750km. The race is a non championship event but draws riders from all over Southern Africa.
2011/06/20 | 15:01 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE