|ABSA 2011: SA-Champions win special vehicles on "Toyota Dealer 400"|
Reigning South African champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald won a war of attrition today to score their first Special Vehicle category victory of the season on a dramatic Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the South African Absa Off Road Championship, which finished last Saturday.
The father and son team, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, finished around nine minutes ahead of the husband and wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie, in the PHB BAT, who produced a superb result to finish second overall and first in Class P. It was a first podium and maiden Class P victory for the Fourie’s who are in their first full season of national competition.
Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Sullwald Racing SVR) took the final podium position after what turned out to be a long day at the office for all the crews. The Sullwald’s suffered gearbox problems throughout the race, and finished the final 120 kilometre loop with the car stuck in third gear.
"That was a tough race in tough conditions," said Kallie Sullwald at the finish. "When we hit a tree on the final loop I thought we had crashed out of the race, but the car was not the slightest bit damaged. It was also a nightmare event for co-drivers, but Quintin was at the top of his game and never made a wrong call throughout the race."
The Fourie’s have made a huge impression since moving up from the regional ranks, and never put a wheel wrong. They were a whopping two hours and 26 minutes ahead of the next Class P car and reported clean run with a lone puncture their only hiccup.
Heavy recent rains in the Mpumalanga region produced a surprisingly wet and slippery route with long grass making it difficult to read the road. A tight route and a couple of vicious river crossing and mud holes took a heavy toll and there were only 13 finishers among the Special Vehicle brigade.
A particularly treacherous crossing forced the organisers to reroute the event after the second of the three loops that made up the race. After skirting the crossing cars were then regrouped and restarted at one minute intervals.
The high attrition rate produced a few surprises with Boela Botes and Johan Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) and Jacques Wheeler and Siegfried Rousseau (Orangeworks BAT) completing the first five cars. For Botes and Pretorius it was a result that almost matched a podium finish in 2009, while it was Wheeler’s best performance of a so far short career.
Perseverance also paid off for KwaZulu-Natal pair Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell who brought the Gibson Racing SVR into sixth place in their first outing of the season. They were followed by former SA champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite Revo 4x4), and brothers David and Gary White (Ruwacon Racing BAT) who both scored their first points of the season.
The top 10 were completed by two Class P entries in the hands of rookie Richard Fuller and Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco BAT) and Nick Goslar and Joe Lima in the Men’s Health International Zarco. It was a maiden podium for former kart racer Fuller, Goslar and Lima with the experienced Minnitt a previous overall winner.
Among the high profile retirements were the Donaldson Prologue pacesetters Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR4) and Adenco 400 winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3). Corbett/Balzer retired with windscreen wiper failure that made visibility impossible, while Matthews and Smith lost a wheel in an altercation with a hidden rock.
Nick and Ryan Harper also fell by the wayside to be joined by Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya in the Maxxis Tyres Porter. The race also took its toll on Class B runners with no classified finishers in the category.
The next event on the Absa calendar is the Atlas Copco 400 in Dundee on May 20 and 21.
2011/04/15 | 14:02 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE