Anyone's game at Nkomazi 400

2013-04-08 11:14

Another wide-open race is on the cards as the Special Vehicle brigade move into unknown territory on the Nkomazi 400, Round 2 of the SA Cross Country championship, in Mpumalanga over April 12/13, 2013.

Based in Malelane the race is a new one on the calendar and will provide additional challenges for a field that is again loaded with quantity and quality. The opening race of the season produced a minor surprise with kwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Porter) finally turning potential into a meaningful result.


The RFS 400 win sees Gibson and Campbell feature among the pre-race favourites for the Nkomazi but making it two in a row won’t be easy for the KZN pair...they'll be under more pressure than normal and there is no shortage of crews with winning potential.

Leading the chasing pack will be reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, in a BAT Venom, and an ominous start to the season on the RFS 400 looks likely to see them once again right up there when it comes to championship challenges. Team mates Nick and Ryan Harper, in another Venom, also started the season on a high note and a win for the pair is long overdue.

Another KZN crew, Daniel Brooks and Gavan Gray (BAT), are also starting to flex their muscles. They ended the 2012 season on a high and got 2013’s campaign off to a solid start with fourth on the RFS 400.

Wins are also overdue for Phalaborwa-based former champions Quinton and Kallie Sullwald (BAT Venom) and Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Stryker). Each team is out in a new car and will want to recover quickly from shaky starts to the season.

Marius and Jolinda Fourie (BAT) and Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (CR4) are in the same boat as the Sullwalds: potential winners and if everything falls into place for the two teams they could ruffle feathers at the front of the field.

Pieter Ruthven/Leander Pienaar (BAT) and Daniel and Louw Zeelie (Porter) will be looking for consistency to produce a good result and the progress of newcomers Philip de Vries and Johan Viljoen, in a Porter, will be closely watched. The pair came home sixth on the RFS 400.

Brett and Steve Parker (Jimco) would like to add a little spark to their season and the progress of Botswana driver Mogrey Mabille, again paired with Zelda Niemandt (Porter), will also be closely watched.

Also a danger is the experienced Nardus Alberts and son Louis i(BAT) - another crew with winners' circle appearances to their name.


Developments in Class P will also come under close scrutiny. On any day reigning champions Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (CR3) would be classified among those capable of winning overall. They came unstuck on the RFS 400, finishing behind John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum). In recent seasons they generally outpaced the rest of the Class P field and will be keen to reassert their authority.

Consistency is a forte for veteran Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Zarco) while Keith Makenete/Peter Hlutwa (Zarco) and Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (Zarco) will be looking for solid results. There are two other crews, however, who could shake things up a little.

Father/son Tony and Michael Gouveia (BAT) have dominated the Northern Regions championship and veteran Rob Wark, paired with Jeremy Wood in a K9 Racing Aceco, will be keen to show there is still life in the old dog. Both crews will be candidates for class podium finishes.

Race HQ and the designated service park will be at the Riverview Preparatory School with public entry to these areas and spectator points along the route free of charge. Spectator guides will be available at race headquarters and Malelane Toyota.

The prologue to determine race grid position will start at 12.30pm on Friday April 12 and the race at 8.30am the following day.