Winner No.6 for SV off roaders
NEW CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS: Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen's second place at Carnival City on Sunday saw the pair moving into the lead of the Special Vehicle class of the Absa SA Off Road champs.
Brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis on Saturday, September 1, 2012 became the sixth Special Vehicle winners in six races when they won the 4x4 Mega World 400 at Carnival City.
The brothers, in a Zarco, came home with 1min28 to spare over former South African champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in a BAT Venom in round six of the Absa Off-Road championship. Victory for Du Plessis gave him his second Carnival City victory; he won in 2009 but on that occasion was doing the driving with Charl Seegers alongside him.
TWO RACES TO GO
There was ample compensation for Hutchison and Stassen, though, who took over the Special Vehicle championship lead from BAT crew Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson. Hutchison said: “It was a good result for us, but the championship is far from over. The last two races of the season are going to be very tense.”
Father and son pair of Nick and Ryan Harper came in third in a second BAT Venom; it was first time out for the new Venom with the Harpers.
After recent ups and downs there were also good results for the husband and wife pair of Marius and Jolinda Fourie and former SA champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald. They completed the top five with the Fouries finishing two and a half minutes clear of the Sullwalds after both crews had to deal with niggly mechanical problems.
They were followed by KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell and van Staden and Lawrenson, who led the Special Vehicle championship going into the race. A roll early in the race set van Staden and Lawrenson back on their heels, and on a fast and dusty route they had to work hard to salvage seventh place and valuable championship points.
Unofficial scoring saw Hutchison/Stassen leading van Staden/Lawrenson, who also ran out of brakes 100km from the end, by seven points. The Du Plessis brothers moved into third place with a slim chance of winning the title and, with crews having to drop one event at the end of the season, the title chase is delicately poised.
Hardest-hit in the championship battle were reigning champions Herman and Wichard Sullwald whose Porter suffered suspension damage early in the race and left them listed among the non finishers. They are now effectively out of the championship equation.
The top 10 was rounded out by a trio of Class P cars with championship leaders Colin Matthews/Alan Smith, leading home Richard Fuller/Denis Murphy and Sun City winners Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra.
It was a great recovery from Matthews and Smith who overcame a prologue penalty that dropped them to 14th in the Special Vehicles and 30th on the road at this morning’s start. The win also tightens the hold the pair - that was hit with a puncture within sight of the finish line - have on the Class P championship.