Hutchison/Stassen clinch debut win

2013-05-20 13:27

ESTON, kwaZulu-Natal – Reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen gave the new BAT Viper a fairytale debut when they won the Special Vehicle category at the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, round three of the SA Cross-Country championship, which ended on Saturday, May 18.

It was the first win of the season for Hutchison and Stassen, and one that took them to the top of the Special Vehicle and Class A championships. With early season championship leaders Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Porter) only managing fifth overall, Hutchison and Stassen moved to the top of both championships after a dominant performance in the new car.


Former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (BAT) continued their good form to finish second, and another father and son team in Nick and Ryan Harper completed a good day for the Motorite squad by taking the final podium position in the BAT Venom. For both teams it was their best result of the season, and in unofficial scoring left them third and fourth in the championship behind Hutchison/Stassen and Gibson/Campbell.

Stassen said: “We had a clean run and it was the perfect start for a new car. It was a route where it was easy to make mistakes and we had to work hard for what was a great result for us.”

Hutchison and Stassen survived a whack up the backside from Production Vehicle crew Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the Hilux, at a road crossing on the first of the four loops that made up the race.

The Motorite crew then took control of the Special Vehicle category when prologue winners Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (CR3) were put out of action with steering failure after being hit by Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy in their Hilux.

Local crew Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann (BAT) were running second at the end of the first loop, but the winners of 2012’s Sun City 400 were headed for retirement with gearbox hassles. Gibson and Campbell, who were third on the prologue to determine grid positions, also slipped back with the Sullwalds and Harpers slotting in behind Hutchison and Stassen.


At the finish there was a 70-second gap between Hutchison/Stassen and the Sullwalds with the Harpers a further 3mins23sec apart. A third KwaZulu-Natal crew, Daniel Brookes and Gavan Gray in the BAT, bounced back from a disappointing non finish last time out and a solid display moved them ahead of Gibson and Campbell.

Philip de Vries and Johan Viljoen (Porter) was another crew to bounce back from a disappointing result to come home a steady sixth. Behind them Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Zarco) took advantage of the demise of Matthews/Smith to finish seventh and win Class P.

Labuscagne said: “It was very slippery but we kept it clean and never got out of the car. When that happens you usually get a good result.”

Bloemfontein crew Pieter Ruthven and Leander Pienaar (BAT) put a disappointing prologue behind them to finish a solid eighth with the top 10 rounded out by two other Class P crews. Jeremy Wood and veteran co-driver Ashley Thorn (Aceco) finished around 20 minutes behind the Labuscagnes and, in turn, were a little more than five minutes ahead of Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey (Zarco).

The next event on the SA Cross-Country championship calendar is the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 21-23. With the only marathon event in the series carrying points and a half it could have a huge bearing on the overall championship.