TOP TEAMS CHASE SPECIAL VEHICLE VICTORY
A growing band of suspects will be among the Special Vehicle category favourites at the Toyota Dealer 450, in Mooi River on April 4 and 5.
The race breaks new ground in KwaZulu-Natal and there have been a couple of interesting developments since the opening race of the season the RFS 450. That does not, however, alter the fact that crews like reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Viper), Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT Venom), Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Stryker) will be expected to be among the frontrunners.
After a seesaw battle Quintin and Kallie Sullwald edged out Hutchison and Stassen on the RFS 450, and another intriguing battle between the two crews is on the cards. The other Sullwald crew were among the non finishers, but did enough in the qualifying race to suggest they will be serious challengers at the front of the field – although they will be under a little pressure to quickly get their season back on track.
Other crews who can be expected to feature among the leaders are Gerhard du Plessis and his teenage son Gerhardus, who started the season with a solid third in the ageing Jimco, and the husband/wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie in the PHB BAT. Du Plessis will be joined this time out by brother Laurence and another youngster, Adriaan Roets, in a Zarco.
No list of pre-race favourites would be complete without the enigmatic Colin Matthews and in another twist Matthews in the Century Racing CR3, will rejoin the Class P fold for the rest of the season. He will also want to hit back after a ‘did not finish’ in Harrismith, while Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr sit out Mooi River in favour of giving the new Century Racing CR5 a test outing at the Abu Dhabi Desert Classic.
It is also appropriate that hats be thrown into the ring by a quartet of KwaZulu-Natal crews. National series newcomers Arthur Barnes and Anthony Usher (BAT) got off to a fine start with fourth place on the RFS 450, and Clint Gibson/Gary Campbell were a solid sixth in the Dirt Sport Components Porter.
Daniel Brookes and Gavan Gray (Ducatis Property BAT) will want to bounce back from a disappointing RFS 450 non finish, but the biggest KZN threat could come from Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt. Trethewey is a previous national race winner, and has bought the Motorite BAT Venom previously campaigned by Hutchison and Stassen.
If Trethewey can quickly come to grips with a car now running in LTE colours, he and Minnitt will be a distinct threat. “We will now be taking a cannon to a gunfight,” said Trethewey, but lack of seat time in the car could backfire on the pair.
The Mooi River race will also see a first appearance of the season for Cape based Derick du Toit, along with Craig Gray, in the CRC BAT. The car was previously campaigned under the Atlas Copco banner by Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson.
Jimmy Zahos, with Zaheer Bodhanya replacing Alan Smith in the Cobalt Racing Stryker, will want to build on an encouraging start to the season, but it is a different scenario for Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl in the Sizanani Plastics Jimco. They were early casualties in Harrismith and need to come up with a solid result.
With Matthews back in the fold Class P has an interesting look about it, with reigning champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum) also needing to recover from a disappointing fourth on the RFS 450.
The steady John Telford and Andrew Makenete (Calcamite/Rhino Tanks BAT) will want to build on their Harrismith win, while Jeremy Wood will take over driving duties from Rob Wark in the K9 Racing Aceco with Greg Higgins in the hot seat.
The father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Chemsystems Zarco) will join the list of crews in recovery mood after a disappointing start to their 2014 campaign. A number of KZN crews bolster the Class P entry with the category set to produce some interesting clashes.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located at the Weston Agricultural College on the outskirts of Mooi River. Public access to these areas and viewing points along the route is free of charge, with spectator guides available at race headquarters https://www.saoffroadracing.co.za.
The qualifying race to determine race grid positions will start at 11:30 on Friday, 4 April and the race at 08:30 on Saturday, 5 April.