|Donaldson CC: History repeats in Special Vehicles Class in Botswana rally|
The "Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race" invariably produces a sting in the tail, but no one was prepared for the high drama that surrounded the finish of the Special Vehicle category on round four of the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship".
History, with a little twist, repeated itself with Wichard and Hermann Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel Stryker, winning the only marathon event on the Donaldson calendar for the second year in a row. Only this time it was Wichard doing the driving with father Hermann navigating in a race that counts double championship points.
There was, however, a dollop of fortune involved in a win that, as it did last year, brings the Sullwald crew solidly back into the championship picture. The uncertainty that is motor racing played a cruel trick on reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, in the Motorite BAT, when the car caught fire two kilometers from the flying finish.
Hutchison and Stassen started the final 225 kilometer loop of the race in second place behind Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT). There was a gap of one minute 46 seconds between the two crews, but when the Sullwalds ran into trouble Hutchison and Stassen moved into the lead and looked certain to revive their back to back championship hopes. "What can I say, I’m devastated," said Hutchison. "This certainly hasn’t been our year."
The final 450 kilometer racing section wreaked havoc among the Special vehicles and only five cars – three of them Class P entries made it to the finish. In a dream result KwaZulu-Natal pair Arthur Barnes and Anthony Usher, in a BAT, finished second on their Toyota 1000 Desert Race debut and also leaped up the championship ladder.
Another KZN crew, James Watson and John Thompson, in a BAT, completed the podium and clinched Class P after late race problems for Colin Matthews / Rodney Burke (Century Racing CR3) and reigning champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten in a Zarco.
In their best career finishes Keith Makenete/Moaliso Borotho (Zarco) and Sean Reitz and Michael Abramson (Regent Racing Jimco) completed the top five and were the last of the finishers.
The day also started off on a dramatic note with overnight leaders Laurence du Plessis and Gielie le Roux (Zarco) failing to start. With du Plessis’s brother Gerhard and his son Hardus, leading the championship before this weekend, excluded from the results on racing section one, the overall championship has been given a severe shake-up with the Sullwalds and Barnes/Usher the major beneficiaries.
2014/07/03 | 15:38 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE