|ABSA 2012: Close Chamionship battles in ABSA Special Vehicle Category.|
Some close championship battles add a little extra spice to the Special Vehicle category at the Sun City 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Championship, in the Pilanesberg on July 27 and 28.
Only four points separate Toyota 1000 Desert Race winners Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Venom, and Atlas Copco BAT pair Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson at the top of the championship table. Behind the leaders only 1,5 points separate Hermann/Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Porter), Laurence/Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco) and Class P leaders Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3.
There are other tight battles a little further down the field and, as usual, picking a winner is a risky business. There are half a dozen or more teams who could come out on top but after their Botswana victory Hutchison and Stassen will be early favourites.
Van Staden and Lawrenson grind away at the opposition, the Sullwalds have had an up and down season and the du Plessis brothers look more than capable of picking up a win. After their 2011 woes Matthews and Smith have been a revelation this season and a second overall win this season would come as no surprise.
Quintin Sullwald appears to settling into his role as a driver and if he and father Kallie maintain their Toyota Desert Race form they join the list of potential winners. The likes of Mark Corbett/Julien Hardy (Century Racing CR4), Nick and Ryan Harper (Motorite Revo) and the husband and wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB Porter) are also capable of upsetting the applecart and three KwaZulu-Natal crews throw their hats into the ring.
Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing Porter) have been threatening a win, while Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann (LT Earthmovers BAT) are fresh from a victory on the Nankang Drak 250 KZN regional championship event. Daniel Brookes and Gavan Gray (Ducatus Property BAT) join the fray from the KZN regional series and will compete in the remaining Absa championship events this season.
Pieter Ruthven/Leander Pienaar picked up their best result of the season on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race while there are interesting entries from Botswana drivers Keith du Toit and Mogrey Mabille. Du Toit will be partnered by Dakar Rally quad legend Vicus van Deventer while Mabille will again team up with Zelda Niemandt.
There is both quantity and quality in the Class A field and the competition has never been tougher. Crews like Hutchison/Stassen, van Staden/Lawrenson and reigning SA champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald will be heavily fancied, but don’t rule out the prospect of a surprise.
Matthews and Smith will be expected to again dominate Class P but there is some stern opposition. Richard Fuller (Regent Racing BAT) is a previous overall winner of the Sun City event and after their Botswana win he and Dennis Murphy will be full of confidence.
The consistent John Telford/Jaco Swart (Calcamite BAT) are back in action after missing the Botswana race, and Swaziland crew John Thomson and Clinton McNamara (Zarco) also bring quality to the party. Keith and Andrew Makenete are reunited in a Zarco and will resume a personal rivalry with Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) while veteran Rob Wark, partnered by Jeremy Wood in the Superpave Aceco, makes another of his sporadic appearances.
There will be a two-way battle in Class B where veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei in a WPP will be up against Grant Watkins and Charl van Jaarsveld in a Zarco.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located in the parking area at the main entrance to the Sun City complex. Public access to these areas and spectator points along the route is free. The Donaldson Prologue to determine race grid positions will start at 12:30 on Friday, July 27 and the race at 08:30 on Saturday, July 28.
2012/07/22 | 18:36 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE