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Father, son team wins Nkomazi 450

2014-05-19 11:05

LET'S RACE: The 2014 SA National Cross Country championship Nkomazi 450 had plenty of ups and downs in the third round. Image: Charmaine Fortune

MALELANE, Mpumalanga – Round 3 of the SA National Cross-Country championship, the Nkomazi 450, saw two father and son combinations dominate the Special Vehicle category.

Former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald won the Class A title races. The Sullwalds failed to make it to the finish in the previous round but cruised to their second win in the 2014 season.

The Sullwalds had plenty to spare over another father-and-son combination Gerhard and Hardus du Plessis. The Du Plessis pair started the day with a 15-point lead in the two title chases but kept the momentum going with their third podium finish in three races.


Hardus du Plessis, 16, had three podium finishes in his first three races, a remarkable achievement. Again, however, the youngster simply shrugged his shoulders and said his dad did all the hard work.

Third went to Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt in a Toyota, overcoming a dodgy qualifying race to stage a strong comeback. It was their first podium in a car recently bought from reigning champion Evan Hutchison.

It was a little ironic that Hutchison and local favourite Danie Stassen should be the biggest losers on the event. Their title hopes were severely dented when they lost a wheel on the first of the 175km loops that made up the race and were sidelined for the second race in a row.

Quintin Sallwald said: “Coupled with a win in the qualifying race this has been a good weekend for us. It was a tough but relatively trouble-free race and it was the sort of result we needed after our non-finish on the Toyota Dealer 500.”

The Du Plessis pair were hampered by a brake problem but father Gerhard admitted they could not match the Sullwalds for pace. Du Plessis said: “It was a difficult race, but we did not make any costly mistakes. Hardus did another good job and we are enjoying ourselves.”

Trethewey and Minnitt started eighth among the Special Vehicles but made steady progress through the field. They also picked up places from retirements and reported a clean run.


Minnitt said: “We did not have any issues but on this route it was difficult to overtake. It was a combination of a tight route and dust but a podium for the new car was a good result for us.”

Swaziland-based John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten netted fourth overall and cemented their position at the top of the Class P championship. There was, however, a dramatic start to the category with qualifying race winners Keith Makenete and Moalosi Borotho rolling their car about three kilometres into the race. That opened the way for Thomson and Zermatten to pick up their second win on the trot.

Two KwaZulu-Natal crews – Daniel Brookes/Gavan Gray and Arthur Barnes/Anthony Usher – also recovered from disappointing qualifying race performances. Strong race showings took them into fifth and sixth ahead of  Derick du Toit and Craig Gray.

Veterans Rob Wark and Ashley Thorn rolled back the years to finish eighth overall and second in Class P. They came in ahead of Colin Matthews/Rodney Burke with Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl after a difficult day that saw them slip down the leaderboard completing the top 10.

Matthews, who won this race overall in 2013, and Burke started about 40 minutes behind the class leaders. A typically aggressive Matthews drive saw them make their way through the field – although they were lucky to finish.

Matthews said: “We tried a little too hard in the forest section and damaged the chassis. Fortunately the car stayed together until the finish.”

The next event on the calendar will bethe Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana through June 27-29 2014.

Special Vehicles race Class A results:

1 Q Sullwald/K-H Sullwald  2 G du Plessis/H du Plessis 3 L Trethewey/G Minnitt.

Class P – 1 J Thomson/M  Zermatten 2 R Wark/A Thorn 3 C Matthews/R Burke
Read more on:    toyota  |  mpumalanga  |  malelane  |  motorsports  |  racing

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