TWO AT THE TOP: A win by Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt in the 2015 Sugarbelt 450 means joint championship leaders.. Image: Keino Davie
ESTON, kwaZulu-Natal - Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt romped to a Special Vehicle victory on the Sugarbelt 450 on Saturday (May 9 2015), Round 2 of the South African Cross-Country Championship, which ended here today.
They brought their BAT Venom home ahead of former South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (BAT Viper) and now the two crews are tied at the top of the championship after a win and a second apiece.
Hutchison and Stassen won the season-opening Endurance race ahead of Trethewey/Minnitt.
Minnitt who lives in Plettenberg Bay but works in Johannesburg, said after the race: “It’s been a near perfect weekend with second in the qualifying race then the win. We had a trouble-free run and Lance was always on the pace.
”The route and the organisation were out of the top drawer and we enjoyed ourselves.”
A popular result saw Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl finish third in a Jimco. It was Parker’s first podium finish and Van Zyl’s first in 13 years, with the pair recovering from a coming together with a tree on the first of the two 160km loops that made up the race.
Van Zyl explained: “There was a fair bit of damage to the right front suspension but the guys in the pit did a good job. You could say it was about time I found myself on the podium again.”
Trethewey/Minnitt and Hutchison/Stassen started the race behind Mark Corbett/Juan Mohr in a CR5 which was still out in front at the end of the first loop but later retired, its steering broken.
That left Trethewey/Minnitt and Hutchison/Stassen in control and the race settled into a pattern with Trethewey/Minnitt gradually easing away from Hutchison/Stassen in tricky conditions made more difficult by dust.
The two lead cars opened up a gap of more than 12 minutes over Parker/Van Zyl who were well clear of Class P winners John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum) who finished fourth.
It was a timely win for Swaziland-based Thomson/Zermatten who were among the non-finishers on the opening event of the season. With Endurance winners James Watson/John Thompson (BAT) among the non-finishers this time, Thomson/Zermatten, 2013 champions, bounced back into the championship picture.
A trademark steady run took veteran Coetzee Labuschagne and daughter Sandra (Porter) into the top five in only their second outing in the premier Class A. They were a couple of minutes clear of Sarel van Biljon/Philip Herselman (BAT).
The Van Biljon/Herselman adventures included a coming together in heavy dust with Production Vehicle team mates Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau. Then they beached their car on a bridge but recovered sufficiently to pick up points.
ROLL IN QUALIFYING
Adventure was also the name of the game for kwaZulu-Natal crew Bryant Meyer/Hugh Hedgcock, making their National series debut in a BAT.
They rolled in the qualifying race but bounced back to be the last of the seven classified Special Vehicles finishers.
• The next outing on the Cross-Country calendar will be the Desert Race in Botswana over June 26/28, the only marathon event in the National series.