|ABSA 2012: South African Special Vehicle Championship is delicately poised.|
Pace, reliability and a little luck are commodities two teams chasing the Special Vehicle championship will hope to have on their side at the Human Auto 400, the penultimate round of the South African "ABSA Off Road Championship", in Thaba ‘Nchu on October 19 and 20.
Championship leaders Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Venom) and second placed Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco BAT Anti-Venom) will go head to head in the shadow of the Lesotho Mountains in a clash that could decide the championship or leave matters in abeyance until the final event of the season.
A seven point lead tips the scales ever so slightly in favour of Hutchison/Stassen – but both teams still have to drop a score and, as matters stand, that would mean a two point swing for the Atlas Copco team.
It is a situation loaded with ifs and buts and one that opens up all sorts of tactical considerations for the Motorite and Atlas Copco teams. There are also a whole bundle of other crews who could throw spanners in the works.
At the front of this contingent are brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco) who won the 4x4 Mega World 400 to retain a mathematical chance of sneaking in the back door. The Wolmarransstad pair pose a constant threat but trail Hutchison/Stassen by 28,5 points.
Also joining the list of teams who could muddy the waters are reigning champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Porter) who would like to end a disappointing season with a flourish. Quintin and Kallie Sullwald, in the sister Elegant Fuel BAT, will be keen to score their first win of the season, and the second BAT Venom in Motorite colours has given Nick and Ryan Harper fresh impetus.
Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT) also pose a threat along with Mark Corbett and Julien Hardy (Century Racing CR4) and veteran Nardus Alberts and son Louis in the Wrapsa BAT. Bloemfontein based Pieter Ruthven and Leander Pienaar (Ruwacon Racing BAT) will be determined to snare a good result on home turf, and brothers David and Gary White return to action in a second Ruwacon Racing BAT.
KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing Porter) also have the ability to ruffle a few feathers and then, of course, there are Class P leaders Colin Matthews and Alan Smith in the Century Racing CR3. Although they have gone a little off the boil in recent races Matthews and Smith have to be included among the pre-race favourites.
Behind Matthews/and Smith a trio made up of Richard Fuller/Dennis Murphy (Regent Racing BAT), John Telford/Jaco Swart (Calcamite BAT) and Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) are locked in close battle in the Class P championship. None of them have been able to match Matthews and Smith for pace, and the Century Racing crew are certain to once again make life uncomfortable for the Class A brigade.
KwaZulu-Natal crews dominate the Class B entry list where two Zarco Lites and an early spec BAT will do battle with Sidriaan de Villiers and Dwayne Voogt in the little UTV entry. The main focus, however, will be firmly on the battle for the overall championship and all the various permutations on offer add up to a weekend of potential high drama.
The event will also incorporate a round of the Northern Region championship with race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park all located at the Black Mountain Hotel. Public entry to these areas and spectator viewing points along the route is free with spectator guides available at race headquarters and Human Auto in Bloemfontein.
The Donaldson Prologue to determine race grid positions will start at 12:30 on October 19 and the race at 08:30 on October 20.
2012/10/18 | 13:35 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE