|ABSA 2012: Neck and neck BAT-buggy battle in Special Vehicle Category.|
An intriguing battle has developed at the top of the Special Vehicle championship after five rounds of the South African "Absa Off Road Championship".
The Sun City 400 in the Pilanesberg, which produced a maiden win for KwaZulu-Natal crew Lance Trethewey and Car Wichmann, also saw change at the top of the overall championship.
The Atlas Copco BAT pair of Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson have replaced Toyota 1000 Desert Race winners Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT) at the top of standings with just three points separating the two crews.
A second place on the Sun City event was enough to leapfrog Van Staden and Lawrenson ahead of Hutchison and Stassen who finished fourth. The Motorite pair won the Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions, but got lost early in the race and had to fight a rearguard action to finish behind Trethewey/Wichmann, van Staden/Lawrenson and Century Racing crew Mark Corbett and Julien Hardy who produced their best result of the season with a storming drive from the back of the field after problems on the prologue.
Behind the two lead crews there is also an intriguing situation with just 1,5 points separating the next three teams - all of who were listed among the non finishers at Sun City. Reigning South African champions Herman and Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Porter) enjoy a slight advantage over Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco) and Class P leaders Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3.
The situation in Class A is even tighter with only two points separating van Staden/Lawrenson and Hutchison/Stassen. In the battle for third and fourth the du Plessis brothers again lead the Sullwalds by 1,5 points.
Although they failed to see out the distance in the Pilanesberg, Matthews and Smith continue to hold a comfortable lead over John Telford and Jaco Swart (Calcamite BAT) who missed the Toyota 1000 Desert Race. Richard Fuller and Dennis Murphy (Regent Racing BAT) rescued enough points to stay ahead of Sun City winners Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne in the Raysonics Zarco.
Matthews and Smith have a comfortable 23 point lead over Telford and Swart. Fuller and Murphy are a further six points adrift with the Labuscagnes another three points in arrears.
With the overall and Class A championships delicately poised there will be added pressure on van Staden/Lawrenson and Hutchison/Stassen in round six of the championship at the 4x4 Mega World 400 at Carnival City. The East Rand-based race will be run on August 31 and September 1.
2012/08/07 | 16:31 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE