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Donaldson CC: Drama as Matthews/Burke win BAT category Sun City 400.







There was plenty of late race drama as Century Racing crew Colin Matthews and Rodney Burke won the Special Vehicle category on the "Sun City 400", round five of the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship" which ended last weekend.

For Matthews, in the Century Racing CR3, it was his second overall win this season in a Class P car with rookie co-driver Rodney Burke setting what is probably some kind of South African cross country record. Burke, taking over co-driver duties from Alan Smith, sat in a race car for the first time on Friday’s qualifying to determine race start positions, and was a winner in his maiden national outing.

Burke’s problems were compounded when the GPS system went on the blink and the odometer stopped working on the second of two loops that made up the race. “It made life interesting but Colin’s experience came into play and he drove brilliantly,” said Burke. “It was an awesome day and a great way to start my racing career.”

Matthews/Burke started the day in fifth place but at the halfway mark had moved into second behind prologue winners Lance Trethewey and Spencer Kriel in the LTE BAT. With Trethewey looking for back to back Sun City 400 wins, the KwaZulu-Natal crew ran into fuel relay problems on the second loop of the race to finally finish sixth.

Mark Corbett and Julien Hardy looked set to make it a Century Racing double when they were lying second three kilometres from the finish. Then a mistake which resulted in a small overshoot at a corner let through championship leaders Hermann and Wichard Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel Stryker, who took the premier Class A honours.

“We were caught napping,” said a rueful Corbett afterwards. “It wasn’t much of a mistake but it was enough to let Hermann and Wichard through.” The mistake also almost cost Corbett and Hardy another place. They finished a scant nine seconds ahead of reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the Motorite BAT Viper.

From an overall championship and Class A title point of view it was a good result for the Sullwalds who started the day 19th on the road after a disappointing Friday qualifying result. It meant the Phalaborwa pair edged away from Hutchison and Stassen with only 2,5 points separating the crews in both championships going into the weekend.

After producing a steady race day performance a second KwaZulu-Natal crew in Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Dirt Sport Components Porter) completed the top five. They were around three minutes ahead of the unfortunate Trethewey and Kriel with another steady outing taking Philip de Vries and Johan Viljoen into seventh in the Conqueror Porter.

Democratic Republic of Congo driver Eduardo Argazzi and South African teenager Adriaan Roets completed the top eight in a Zarco with the pair followed home by veteran Nardus Alberts and son Louis in the Wrapsa BAT. Argazzi and Roets then fell foul of officialdom and were hit with a jump start penalty.

That lifted the Alberts pair and Marius Fourie, with Jaco van Aardt deputising for Jolinda Fourie in the PHB BAT, up a notch into eighth and ninth. It also brought Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Motorite BAT Venom, into the top 10.

After a dreadful qualifying and adventurous race, championship leaders John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten eventually fought back bravely to finish second in Class P. They were around 20 minutes behind Matthews/Burke and had just over a minute to spare ahead of veteran Ernest Corbett, Guy Henley and Martin Hermida.

Corbett, father of Mark and in his late 60s, shared the driving duties with Henley and did the Friday qualifying stint. Corbett senior is also a previous Class P winner on the Sun City 400.

2013/07/31 | 15:07 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE











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