|ABSA 2011: Motorite’s Hutchison and Verlaque win 4x4 Megaworld 400.|
Championship leaders Kallie and Quintin Sullwald won a skirmish but lost the battle at the 4x4 Mega World 400, round six of the South African Absa Off Road Championship.
Evan Hutchison, partnered by rookie co-driver Megan Verlaque in the Motorite Revo 4x4, scored his first win of the season to revive his championship hopes. Hutchison moved into second place in the driver championship but second place for the Sullwalds, in the Elegant Fuel Bat, saw the Phalaborwa father and son crew finish the day with a 28,5 points cushion at the top of the championship.
Hutchison and Verlaque had a comfortable cushion of around three minutes over the Sullwalds who are the reigning South African champions. Miss Verlaque, a rally driver who competes in the South African Rally Championship, was a late replacement for Danie Stassen and made history by becoming the first rookie navigator to win a national event on debut.
"Megan did a great job under difficult circumstances and it was a timely win for me," said Hutchison. "With two events remaining I still have a chance of catching Kallie, but I have to keep winning."
The Sullwalds, who also finished second on this event last year, nursed the Elegant Fuel BAT over the last 70 kilometres of the race. An oil pressure problem provided them with a few anxious moments. "From a championship point of view it was a good result for us, but we were a little lucky," said Sullwald senior. "It was a difficult event for Quintin but he did a sterling job."
A fine performance saw Marius and Jolinda Fourie finish third overall and win Class P in the PHB BAT. It was also a timely return to form for the husband and wife team who led the Class P championship before a couple of non finishes set them back on their heels.
A fine recovery saw Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR2) storm through the field to finish fourth ahead of Nick and Ryan Harper in the Motorite BAT. For the Harpers there were welcome points after a lean spell.
Corbett and former South African champion Francois Jordaan will compete on the Dakar Rally in the CR2. Balzer will act as crew chief with the CR2 to be rebuilt before a shakedown outing on the Human Auto 400, the penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship, in Bloemfontein in October.
The other Century Racing entry, the CR3 driven by Colin Mathews and Alan Smith, was a major casualty. Matthews and Smith blitzed the Donaldson prologue but reliability problems struck again and they retired with gear box problems.
The other big losers were Hermann and Wichard Sullwald, in the Sullwald Racing SVR, who started the day lying second in the overall championship. A string of punctures saw them eventually finish 14th in the Special Vehicle category, and they finished the event after borrowing wheels from Boela Botes and Johan Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) who were stranded on the side of the road.
A steady run saw Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT) come in behind the Harpers. The Class A crew came in sixth ahead of Sun City 400 winners Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt in the Atlas Copco BAT running in Class P. Fuller and Minnitt also suffered on the Donaldson Prologue and staged a rearguard action.
A superb performance took former SA off road motorcycle champion Graham Maclachlan into the top eight in the ageing Connix Koloi. Maclachlan and brother Vivian were also forced to start from near the back of the field and did a great job in what was only their third event.
There was another Class P podium place for Nick Goslar and Andrew Massey (Men’s health International Zarco) behind the Fouries and Fuller/Minnitt. Fourth went to championship leaders Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson, in the Regent Racing Jimco, who were happy to consolidate their position at the top of the championship.
A close Class B battle eventually went to brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete in a Zarco. They finished a minute ahead of prologue winners Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra in the Raysonics Zarco.
2011/09/12 | 13:19 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE