Bats aflutter at Vryburg
Little to separate the special vehicles in Donaldson Cross Country Champs
WITH the Special Vehicle championship delicately poised there will be some nervous crews at the Vryburg Endurance, round five of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, tomorrow and Saturday.
Former champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Viper) head for the penultimate round of the championship with a 17 point margin over Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt in the LTE BAT Venom.
The third crew still in with a mathematical shot at the title, Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr, in the Century Racing CR5, complete a trio who will resemble a cricket batsman negotiating the nervous 90s.
A non-finish for Hutchison and Stassen on the Nkomazi 450, in Mpumalanga, last time out opened the door for Trethewey/ Minnitt and Corbett/Mohr to stay in the championship reckoning. The Motorite pair went into the Nkomazi 450 with a 27 point lead over Trethewey and Minnitt, but a run of three wins and a second was ended with electrical problems.
It enabled Trethewey and Minnitt, the last of the classified finishers, to close the gap to 17 points while a podium finish saw Corbett and Mohr stay in the title chase. The highly experienced Century Racing pair, 44 points behind Hutchison and Stassen, is hanging in by the skin of their teeth and need the sort of result that will keep alive their championship hopes.
Trethewey and Minnitt are faced with much the same predicament, while Hutchison/Stassen cannot afford another hiccup. There are a maximum of 60 points remaining and you don’t need a degree in mathematics to work out all three crews are walking a tightrope.
A maiden win for Jimmy Zahos and Zaheer Bodhanya, in the Cobalt Racing Stryker, came too late to keep the pair in the championship race. The Mpumalanga race will, however, have given the pair a massive boost in confidence, and Zahos will relish the wide open nature of what will be a typical Kalahari route.
Sarel van Biljon and Phillip Herselman (Atlas Copco BAT) will also be riding a high after second place on the Nkomazi 450, and will be looking for another good result. The opposite in terms confidence applies to Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl in the Sizanani Plastics Jimco.
After a promising start to the season, Parker and van Zyl have been hit by a couple of non finishes and need to regroup. Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra will bring their usual steady approach to the table in the ChemSystems Porter, with the entry bolstered by crews like Andre Fourie/Hendrik Pienaar (BAT) and Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse (Aceco) returning to the Class A fray.
Two Botswana-based drivers will also make the short trip to Vryburg. Keith du Toit and Xander Mare will be out in a BAT with Mogrey Mabille, with a co-driver still to be nominated, out in a Porter.
The Class P championship is developing into a battle between former champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten, in a Zarco Magnum, and Colin Matthews and Rodney Burke in the Century Racing CR3. Unless reliability problems intervene Matthews and Burke will be among the overall favourites, but they trail the consistent Swaziland based Thomson and Johannesburg resident Zermatten by 15 points in the Class P stakes.
Nic Goslar returns to action after injury and re-joins Andrew Massy in the SA Clinics Zarco. Veteran Richard Carolin, who stood in for Goslar, was lying third in the championship but will now drop out of contention.
Andrew Makenete and Ntaote Bereng (Zarco Magnum) will be looking for their first point of the season, while brothers Gene and Ian Boshoff return in a pair of new CR-T cars developed by Century Racing. They will be accompanied by Lotter Klein and Mia van Wyk respectively.
Also in the Class P line-up will be Sean Reitz and Riaan Greyling who usually campaign in the Production vehicle category. Their Regent Racing Nissan Navara is being prepared for Dakar Rally duty and the pair will keep their hand in with an outing in the team’s Jimco.
Race headquarters will be at the Vryburg Motor Club with free public entry and spectator viewing points along the route. Spectator guides will be available at race headquarters, with the qualifying race to determine grid positions starting at 10.30 am tomorrow, with the race from 7.30 am on Saturday.
Former champs Evan Hutchinson and Danie Stassen hang in by the skin of their teeth on Saturday.