|ABSA 2011: Special Vehicle Championship wide open in South Africa series.|
The Special Vehicle category title chase will once again be a wide open affair when the first shots in the Absa Off Road Championship are fired at the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape on March 11 and 12.
The overall and Class A title fights went all the way to the wire last season, and there is every indication that much the same scenario will emerge this time around. There is no shortage of potential race winners in Class A, and last year twice showed that given the right circumstances Class P crews can also win overall.
Reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) lead the Class A challenge in Darling and, unlike last year, will be looking to pick up early season points. They will also need an abacus to keep track of potential challengers led by Herman Sullwald in the Sullwald Racing SVR, and Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau who will this season campaign the ex Bevan Bertholdt BAT Spec 4 that will now run in Total Motorsport colours.
Both crews were involved in last year’s championship battles and nothing is likely to change. Nick and Ryan Harper join Evan Hutchison, now partnered by Danie Stassen, in the Motorite squad with the team taking on a formidable look, with the Harpers in a BAT and former champion Hutchison and Stassen in the Revo 4x4.
Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn (White Star Racing BAT) and Guy Henley and Warwick Goosen (Century Racing Jimco) were a shock one/two on the RFS Magalies 400 last year, and one cannot rule out further surprises. The aggressive Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) scored a couple of podium finishes last season, but it will be a case of all eyes on Johan van Staden and James Rossouw in the Atlas Copco BAT Spec 5.
The Pretoria crew made history last season when they became the first Class P crew to win a national race overall and finally finished third in the Special Vehicle championship. The pair will carry a heavy high expectancy burden into Class A, and time will tell if they have the outright pace to match flyers like the Sullwald’s, Variawa and Hutchison.
Teams like Neil Meyer and Leon Muller (Zarco) and Brett and Steve Parker, in a Jimco, will also be monitored for progress during the season. But with so much talent on tap consistency is going to be a key element for those with championship aspirations.
The possibility of Class P crews again being in the right place at the right time to win races cannot be ruled out, and that adds a little spice to the equation. With van Staden and Rossouw out of the picture the championship is thrown wide open, and again there is no shortage of challengers.
Archie Rutherford (Regent Racing Jimco) won the RFS Magalies 400 overall, former champions Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout are reunited in the Adenco BAT. Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT) were perhaps the stand out rookie crew to emerge last season, while John Thomson and Clinton McNamara showed plenty of pace in a Zarco.
Pace is no problem for Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3 and they will be disappointed if they don’t win races. Andrew Makenete and Thabo Mochebelele will be unknown quantities in a Zarco, but a combination of experience and some new faces gives the class an exciting look.
Experience will be the watchword in Class B with veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei returning to regular national competition in a WPP. He will be up against the equally experienced Coetzee Labuscange and daughter Sandra in the Raysonics Zarco, and it is an interesting contest.
Keith Makenete also has plenty of experience and will now be partnered by Letlatsa Lehana in another Zarco. Dogged determination is a Makenete trademark and is a trait that could serve him well this time around.
The opening race of the season invariably sets the tone for the rest of the championship. Both the Adenco 400 and the Special Vehicle championship have the potential to turn into cracking affairs.
2011/03/09 | 09:47 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE