|ABSA 2012: Pressure on Special Vehicle crew on round 2 Toyota Dealer 400.|
Pressure will be the name of the game for crews hoping for Special Vehicle category success on the "Toyota Dealer 400", round two of the South African "ABSA Off Road Championship", in Mpumalanga this weekend (April 13 and 14).
The pressure will be distributed in equal amounts on teams who got their 2012 campaigns off to solid starts on the RFS Magalies 400, and those who were a little slow out of the starting blocks.
Maintaining the momentum will be the aim for those who did well on the opening event, while getting matters back onto an even keel will be top of the agenda for the laggards.
The Atlas Copco pair of Johan van Staden and new co-driver Mike Lawrenson got their season off to a dream start with a win on the RFS Magalies - but it was a close call. They finished less than 20 seconds ahead of former champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the impressive new Motorite BAT Venom.
Many off road experts are of the opinion that the performance of the BAT Venom on its debut sent severe warning signs to other championship hopefuls. There is, however, plenty of quality in both Class A and Class P to suggest another highly competitive season is in the offing.
Class P flyers Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3) were on the podium at the opening event and, given the right conditions and reliability, are capable of romping away with races. Pace has never been a problem for Matthews and Smith but a single finish, albeit a win, out of eight events last season does not inspire confidence.
The RFS Magalies also produced encouraging performances from brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco Magnum), Nardus Alberts and son Louis in the Wrapsa BAT, and KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell in the Gibson Racing Porter. All three crews would be worth a bet along with brothers David and Gary White (Ruwacon Racing BAT) who in recent races have also suffered the consequences of mechanical unreliability.
The father and son team of Nick and Ryan Harper, out in the ex Hutchison 4x4 Motorite Revo, also come into the picture as do Marius and Jolinda Fourie in a PHB Porter and Mark Corbett/Julien Hardy in the Century Racing CR4. All three crews are top five candidates and will be looking for an improvement on their first race performances.
There is also pressure on the two Sullwald crews running under the Elegant Fuel banner. Reigning champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Porter) and former champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT) will be keen to improve on their first event results.
For crews like Pieter Ruthven, now partnered by Leander Pienaar in the Ruwacon BAT, Steve Parker/VZ van Zyl (Sizanani Jimco) and Naeem Moosajee/Rayhaan Bodhanya (Maxxis Porter) the objective will be top 10 finishes. The Ruwacon crew and Parker/van Zyl, in particular, will want to put first race blues behind them.
There will be interest in Botswana crew Mogrey Mabille and Lepsy Mosope, in a Zarco, while Daniel and Louw Zeelie (Orangeworks Zarco) will be looking to build on an encouraging opening to the season. A finish on the RFS Magalies 400 ended a long series of entries in the ‘did not finish’ column in 2011 race results.
The Class P battle looks enticing although Matthews/Smith will start outright favourites. Interesting developments see last year’s Sun City 400 winner, Richard Fuller and former Toyota Desert Race winner Rob Wark back in harness.
Fuller will share the Regent Racing BAT with Denis Murphy and Wark teams up with Chris Davies in an Aceco. Both crews have the ability to push Matthews and Smith but could be a little ring rusty.
Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (Men’s Health International Zarco), John Telford/Jaco Swart (Calcamite BAT), Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) and the Makenete brothers, Keith and Andrew, in another Zarco, complete a line-up that is sure to see some intense little cameo performances develop as the race progresses.
Race headquarters and the designated service park will be located at Lydenburg Toyota on the road to the Long Tom Pass. Public access to these areas and to 14 spectator viewing points on the route is free of charge, and spectator guides will be available at race headquarters.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine race start positions will start at 12:30 on Friday, April 13, and the race from outside Lydenburg Toyota at 08:30 on Saturday, April 14.
2012/04/11 | 00:06 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/FORTUNE