Two in a row for rally brothers
RACING WINNING BROTHERS: Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis earned their second win in a row in their trusty Zarco Magnum during the special vehicle category at the Human Auto 400.
THABA N'CHU, Lesotho - Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis earned their second win in a row in the special vehicle category during the Human Auto 400, the penultimate round of the Absa Off-Road championship.
The brothers, in a Zarco Magnum, followed up a win in the 4x4 Mega World 400, with another commanding performance, but their win was overshadowed by the ongoing championship battle between Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen (BAT Venom) and Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (BAT) which will be carried over to the final event of 2012.
'SOMEBODY LOOKING AFTER US'
Hutchison and Stassen finished in 2min07 behind the Du Plessis brothers with team mates Nick and Ryan Harper, in another BAT Venom, a further 1min07 back to claim a second successive podium finish.
The Harpers proved to be an important buffer between Van Staden and Lawrenson who finished fourth. Hutchison and Stassen will enter the final event with a nine-point lead over Van Staden and Lawrenson, with the title fight going down to the wire for the second year in a row.
Hutchison said: “Somebody was looking after us today. We finished minus a couple of gears and, had they been damaged 20km earlier, I don’t think we would have made it to the finish.
“On the bright side a two-point gain in the championship could turn out to be decisive.”
For their part Van Staden and Lawrenson were left to rue a puncture on the first of the two 170km laps that made up the race. The flat, 20km from the finish, dropped them down to ninth among the special vehicles at the halfway point. Van Staden said: “We could see Evan and Danie ahead of us when we had to stop. It meant we had to really push on the second loop to do some damage control.
“We are a little disappointed but it sets up a really interesting finale to the season.”
Van Staden and Lawrenson were comfortably ahead of reigning SA champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Porter) after a running battle with CR4 crew Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer. The gap between fourth and fifth was 23 seconds.
Pieter Ruthven and Leander Pienaar (BAT) and the husband[-and-wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (BAT) completed the top eight with 20 seconds separating the two cars.
A disappointing second loop saw the Fouries drop down the order after running in the top three at the halfway mark. The pair finished the race with a flat tyre.
DAD AND DAUGHTER
Class P championship leaders Colin Matthews and Alan Smith were the race casualties in their CR3 when they hit a ditch and lost a wheel. The error handed the initiative to Richard Fuller and Dennis Murphy (BAT).
Fuller and Murphy took advantage of the situation to finish four minutes ahead of the dad-and-daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Zarco). Third place belonged to Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey (Zarco) who fought back well after a disappointing prologue.
Class B honours went to kwaZulu-Natal crew Leon Bothma and Quintin Brand in an early-spec BAT. They had more than an hour to spare over Sidriaan de Villiers and Dwayne Voogt who were the last of the classified finishers in a UTV.