|ABSA 2011: Pressure on class a crews on South African Toyota Dealer 400.|
They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place - which is good news for Class A crews in the Special Vehicle category at the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, in Mpumalanga on April 8 and 9.
It was on this race last year that Johan van Staden and James Rossouw made history by becoming the first Class P crew to win an Absa national race overall. Since then two other Class P crews have also done the trick – the most recent a win for Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3) on the first event of the season – and the Class A brigade will be anxious to regain bragging rights.
The circumstances needed to make it possible for Class P crews to win races were again in evidence on the Adenco 400, which kicked off the season in the Western Cape. Conditions will be different in Mpumalanga and the Class A cars should assert their authority, but there is quality and depth in the Class P ranks.
Podium finishes in the Western Cape saw Nick and Ryan Harper (Motorite BAT) and reigning South African champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) get their overall and Class A title challenges off to a solid start. Van Staden and Rossouw, now in Class A in the Atlas Copco BAT Spec 5, also managed damage control and all three crews will again be among the front runners with plenty of attention focussed on crews who were under achievers on the Adenco 400.
Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen (Motorite Revo 4x4), David and Gary White (Ruwacon BAT), Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) and Brett and Steve Parker (Jimco) fall into this bracket. Those of them with non finishes under their belts are under additional pressure and must get their title challenges firmly back on track.
The same applies to Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) and Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR4) and Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell, who missed the Western Cape opener, Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis Tyre Porter) also missed the opening event along with Boela Botes and Johann Pretorius in the Botes Vervoer BAT.
Others will want to build on satisfactory starts to the season. Here the likes of RFS Magalies 400 winners Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn (White Star Racing BAT) and Jacques Wheeler and Grant Taylor (Total BAT) come to mind.
Matthews and Smith will be riding the crest of a wave, and lead a Class P challenge that is simply loaded with potential. KwaZulu-Natal crew Don Thomson and Wayne Foster will be a major threat in a Zarco, as will former champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco 400.
Archie Rutherford and Mark Lawrenson (Regent Racing Jimco), the other Class P crew to have won a national overall, were a little subdued in the Western Cape as were Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara in the Zarco Magnum. Richard Fuller, partnered by the experienced Geoff Minnitt, made an impressive debut in the Atlas Copco BAT while Marius and Jolinda (PHB BAT) continue to make progress. The Class P ranks are also bolstered by KZN crew Glenn Gibson and Ralph Francis in a BAT, and Andrew Makenete and Thabo Mochebelele in a Zarco. The category is now on an equal footing with Class A when it comes to competitive racing.
Scrolling through the Class A and Class P entry lists highlights any number of crews who could walk away with the overall victory. It is simply a matter of who ticks all the right boxes on the Donaldson Prologue, which determines race start positions, and in the race.
A maiden win for Keith Makenete and Letlatsa Lehana on the Adenco 400 gives the Zarco crew a slight edge in Class B. Consistency will be a forte of veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei in the outdated WPP, while Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne will be looking to bounce back from a Western Cape did not finish result in the Raysonics Zarco.
Newcomers Rikus Prinsloo and Ferdi Ehmke will be something of an unknown quantity in a BAT, but provide the category with an additional boost.
2011/04/06 | 16:27 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY