|ABSA 2011: Sullwald seek to tighten grip on Special Vehicle Championship.|
Reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald will be looking to tighten their hold on the Special Vehicle category at the Atlas Copco 400 in KwaZulu-Natal, round three of this year’s Absa Off Road Championship, on May 20 and 21.
A solid start to the season has given the father and son team, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, comfortable leads in both the overall and premier Class A championships. There are three Class P teams in the top five in the overall championship, and the pressure is on Class A crews to get back into the title race.
The only other Class A crew in the top five are Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Motorite BAT, who are fourth behind the Sullwalds, the husband and wife pair of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT) and Adenco 400 winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3.
The Sullwalds have an 11 point advantage over the Fouries, with Matthews/Smith a further four points in arrears, and another good result on the Atlas Copco 400 will give the Sullwalds a tight grip on the overall and Class A championships.
The KZN event shifts from the Eston area near Pietermaritzburg to historic battlefields country in the Dundee area, and the move adds a little extra uncertainty to proceedings. No one quite knows what to expect in terms of the route and conditions, and that throws matters wide open.
And, as usual, there is no shortage of challengers. A second Sullwald father and son crew, Hermann and Wichard, in the Sullwald Racing SVR are ever dangerous, while the steady Harpers grind down the opposition. A finish on the Toyota Dealer 400 will have given the other Motorite crew, former champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, a confidence booster and conditions could play into the hands of the Revo 4x4.
Former Class P champions Johan Van Staden and James Rossouw also come into the picture in the latest spec Atlas Copco BAT, and they will be particularly keen to come up trumps for their sponsor. Van Staden and Rossouw have made a stuttering start to their campaign, but will carry a lot of the smart money.
Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer gave the new Century Racing CR4 an impressive debut on the Toyota Dealer 400, and will be looking to go a step further. Another Century Racing crew, Guy Henley and Warwick Goosen (Century Racing Jimco) will be looking to put recent disappointments behind them, as will Brett and Steve Parker in another Jimco.
Local crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing SVR) have the ability to cause an upset, and Jimmy Zahos and Stefan Coetzee (Cobalt Racing Porter) have plenty of pace but have been plagued by reliability problems.
Boela Botes and Johann Pretorius (Botes Vervoer BAT) and Jaques Wheeler, partnered this time around by the experienced Philip Herselman in a BAT, will be coming off encouraging Toyota Dealer 400 results and will be looking to again break into the top five.
Other crews with potential to come up with good results include brothers Gary and David White (Ruwacon BAT) and experienced KZN campaigner Lance Trethewey who is paired with former quad champion Carl Wichmann in a BAT. The event is also given an international flavour by Edoardo and Riccardo Argazzi, with the DRC pair in an ARG Dragon on their second appearance in an Absa event.
There are plenty of top five candidates among the Class P runners with the Fouries and Matthews/Smith at the head of the queue. The Fouries appear to have found a recipe that combines pace and reliability, while Matthews/Smith have never been short of speed and will fancy their chances of a second overall win this season.
Local crew Don Thompson and Wayne Foster (Zarco) are currently fifth in the overall standings and will also back tmemselves to win on home territory. Another local crew in Daniel Brookes and Tom Lawson (BAT) are in the same boat.
Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco Magnum) also come into the equation as do the experienced Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson in the Regent Racing BAT. A podium finish on the Toyota Dealer 400 will have given Nick Goslar and Andrew Massey (Men’s Health International Zarco) a boost while impressive newcomer Richard Fuller and the experience Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco BAT) will be dangerous dark horses.
The Makanete brothers, Keith and Andrew, team up again in Class B in a Zarco. Driver Keith currently leads the championship with sheer persistence a forte for the brothers.
Veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei (WPP) and Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Raysonics Zarco) will also be in the mix when it comes to a category victory, while a string of KZN crews bolster the Class B entry with potential winners in their midst.
James Watson, in a Mighty Mag, leads the KZN regional championship and Marcus Taylor and Derek Keith (JRE), Quentin and Mark Bell (ETT Sandmaster) and Rob Spencer and Ralph Francis (Atlas Copco Zarco) all have the ability to upstage the Class B regulars. John Thompson and Ian Crouch (Stafix Viper) could also come into contention.
The Atlas Copco 400 is a selected event that sees a round of the KZN regional championship run in conjunction with the national race. With some tight championship battles having developed in the regional classes there will be no shortage of action throughout the field.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions for the race will start at 12:00 on May 20, and the race at 08:30 on May 21. Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service point (DSP).
There is no public entry fee to the race headquarters, the start/finish, the DSP and spectator viewing points along the route. Route guides will be available at race headquarters.
2011/05/17 | 20:39 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE