Eston, Friday – Class P flyers Colin Matthews and Alan Smith stole a march on the premier Class A brigade to win the Special Vehicle prologue at the Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, here today.
The prologue determined race start positions with Matthews and Smith, in the Century Racing CR3, coming home 21 seconds ahead of former South African champions Quintin and Karl-Heinz Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT Venom. Matthews and Smith won the recent Nkomazi 400 in Mpumalanga, where they also won the prologue, and will be looking for a repeat performance.
A further omen for Matthews/Smith was a KwaZulu-Natal win for the Century Racing crew on last year’s Atlas Copco Timbertrack 400 based in Richmond. With three overall wins to their credit in the Donaldson Cross Country Championship Matthews and Smith have more victories than any other Class P crew.
The father and son Sullwald team also carried on where they left off on the Nkomazi 400 and it would appear the younger Sullwald, who took over driving duties last season, is coming to terms with the role. The Sullwalds were 33 seconds clear of local pair Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Dirt Sport Components Porter), who go into tomorrow’s race leading the Special Vehicle championship ahead of reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the new Motorite BAT Viper.
Fourth were another father and son combination, Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Motorite BAT Venom who were 25 seconds adrift and Gibson and Campbell. The Harpers were six seconds clear of team-mates Hutchison and Stassen who completed the top five positions in the new Motorite BAT Viper.
“Considering it was our first outing in the car it was a great result for us,” said Hutchison. “The route was very slippery and it is going to be a tough race but we were more than satisfied with a top five finish.”
The husband and wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT), local crew Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann (LT Earthmovers BAT) and yet another father and son combination in Nardus and Louis Alberts (Wrapsa BAT) completed the top eight. Trethewey and Wichmann winners of last year’s Sun City 400 are considered the danger men in the field and could have lengthened the odds on a win for the pair.
As expected Matthews and Smith dominated Class P and were just over four minutes and 40 seconds clear of veteran Ernest Corbett, who is in his 60s, and Steve Harris in the Century Racing CR2. Corbett/Harris in turn was around three minutes ahead of Jeremy Wood and Ashley Thorn in the K9 Racing Aceco, and Corbett had the satisfaction of finishing ahead of his son Mark who campaigns in Class A.
Tomorrow’s race starts at race headquarters at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club at 8:30. Public access to the start and the designated service park is free of charge.
There is also no entry fee at spectator viewing points, all within 15 kilometres of race headquarters, along the route. The race is spectator friendly with 14 road crossings, all of them spectator points, and a further seven spectator points where the route follows public roads.