|ABSA 2011: Maiden Buggy-class win for Matthews/Smith in Adenco 400 Rally.|
Century Racing crew Colin Matthews and Alan Smith got a monkey off their backs when they won the Special Vehicle category at the opening round of this year’s South African Absa Off Road Championship, the Adenco 400, which finished on Saturday.
It was a maiden win for a team previously known as Donaldson Prologue specialists and provided the Class P brigade with a third overall victory in the national championship. Matthews and Smith won the Friday prologue to determine start positions, and then dominated the race to finish around eight minutes ahead of the father and son combination of Nick and Ryan Harper in the Motorite BAT.
For the Harpers, with Ryan making a return to racing after a long term shoulder injury, it was their first outing in the Motorite team running the premier Class A category.
The podium was completed by the reigning South African champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald who overcame a ten minute penalty during the Friday prologue to determine start positions for the race.
"It was a long time coming but it was worth the wait," said a delighted Matthews. "Over the last 80 kilometres of the race we were a little worried about a noise from the back of the car, and eased up a little. "Other than that the prologue and the race were trouble free, and we were left wondering what took us so long to finally win an event."
Both the Harpers and the Sullwald’s had solid weekends that augur well for the rest of the season. The Harpers were as steady as ever, while the Sullwald’s again showed an aggressive streak that makes them such tough competitors.
"We have messed up this race before, and were determined to make a solid start to the season," said Harper senior. "It worked out well and it is always nice to get on the podium on debut for a new team."
Reigning Class P champions Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, in the Atlas Copco BAT, also had to overcome a 10 minute penalty to finish fourth overall in their Class A debut. The top five were rounded out by KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thomson and Wayne Foster, in another Class P entry with the pair, in an ageing Zarco, were slowed late in the race with a broken radiator pipe.
It was a good event for Class P crews who also supplied the next three places. The husband and wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (BHP BAT) led home brothers Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, in the Adenco BAT, and RFS Magalies 400 winners Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson in the Regent Racing Jimco.
Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn, in the White Star Racing BAT, were ninth overall and fourth in Class A despite a starter motor malfunction. Behind them yet another Class P crew in debutant Richard Fuller and old timer Geoff Minnitt rounded out the top 10 in the Atlas Copco BAT after also running into starter problems.
A tough and technical route and intense heat took a heavy toll. A troubled first race in the Total BAT saw Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rossouw finish a lowly 11th and fifth in Class A, while former South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen were forced to retire the Motorite 4x4 Revo1 with a broken prop shaft.
Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and brothers Brett and Steve Parker (Jimco) were also among the non finishers on what was a tough event with which to kick off the season.
There was also a maiden win in Class B for Keith Makenete and debutant co-driver Letlatsa Lehana in a Zarco. After the retirement of the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne, with the Raysonics Zarco suffering from a gearbox failure, Makenete and Lehana gradually ground down veteran Peter Pfumfei (WPP) who is making a return to national competition this year.
2011/03/14 | 15:51 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE