|Donaldson CC: SA´s Proto Champions set Toyota Dealer 450 Qualifying pace|
Reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen set the Special Vehicle pace in the qualifying race for Saturday’s "Toyota Dealer 450", round two of the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship".
Hutchison and Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Viper, came in ahead of two KwaZulu-Natal crews. The champions were a minute and eight seconds ahead of Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt (LTE BAT Venom) with Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell a further 30 seconds in arrears in the Dirt Sport Components Porter.
Ironically, Trethewey recently bought the BAT Venom from the Motorite team, while Gibson/Campbell last season were championship contenders up until the final event of the Donaldson series. After the opening event of the season, the RFS 450, broke new ground in the Harrismith area, this event also sees competitors flirting with the unknown with the race previously held in the Eston and Richmond areas.
"For the second race in a row we did not know what to expect out there, but from our perspective it turned out okay," said Hutchison. "It is a tight and tough route and it is going to be a difficult race. It has been a good start to the weekend, but it is going to be a tough race."
Although still getting to grips with the new car Trethewey, a previous winner of the "Sun City 400" national championship event, provided further proof of his potential to trouble crews like Hutchison and Stassen and other frontrunners in the Special Vehicle category. Gibson and Campbell are in the same boat with three other KZN crews featuring in the top 10.
Less than two minutes separated the first five cars with Gerhard du Plessis and his teenage son, Hardus, fourth in an ageing Jimco ahead of former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT. The du Plessis combination were third on the RFS 450 and also proved they will be a force with which to be reckoned.
There was a slight surprise when newcomers Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse, in an Aceco, came in sixth. They were ahead of two KZN crews in Daniel Brookes/Gavan Gray (Ducatis Property BAT) and Glen Gibson and Clint Brook in the Dirt Sport Components BAT.
Steve Parker and VJ van Zyl, in the Sizanani Plastics Jimco, were more than happy with ninth place with another KZN crew, Arthur Barnes and Anthony Usher, completing the top 10 in a BAT. Barnes and Usher made a more than promising start to their national career with fourth place on the "RFS 450".
The big losers on the day were former SA champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel Stryker. After starting the season with a non finish, the pair were again hit by bad luck with a broken circlip on the drive shaft putting an end to their afternoon at the office.
There was more for KZN enthusiasts to shout about with James Watson and John Thompson, in a BAT, 12th overall and first in Class P. Watson and Thompson were 50 seconds ahead of John Telford/Viktor Ntsekhe (Calcamite/Rhino Tanks BAT) who were around three minutes ahead of reigning champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten in a Zarco Magnum.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service point (DSP) are all located at the Weston Agricultural College on the outskirts of Mooi River. Public access to these areas and spectator points along the route is free of charge. The race, which starts at 8:30, will be run over two loops with a compulsory 15 minute halt at the DSP after the first lap.
2014/04/05 | 00:57 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/CHARMAINE FORTUNE