Glenharvie, Saturday – Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen wrapped up the Special Vehicle championship when they cruised to victory on the Gold 400, the final round of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.
Hutchison and Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Venom, went into the race locked in a three-way battle for the Special Vehicle and Class A championships with Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson (Atlas Copco BAT) and brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis in a Zarco. By the end of the first of the two 170 kilometre loops that made up the race it was all over bar the shouting.
In wet and muddy conditions van Staden/Lawrenson and the du Plessis brothers had fallen off the radar by the end of the first loop. At the halfway point Hutchison and Stassen reported a clear run while the Atlas Copco crew retired with a broken side-shaft.
For the du Plessis brothers it was a long day at the office. After a litany of problems they eventually limped home 12th overall and eighth in Class A.
Hutchison and Stassen swept through the second loop with no problems to finish well clear of the husband and wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie, in the PHB BAT, who ended a disappointing season on a positive note. There was also a positive end for Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the Century Racing CR3, who grabbed the final podium position and in the process made sure of the Class P championship.
The overall win put the seal on a perfect weekend for Hutchison and Stassen. The pair won the Donaldson Prologue which determines grid positions, dominated the race and wrapped up two titles.
“Conditions on the first loop were as difficult as I have ever encountered,” said Hutchison. “The car was sliding all over the place but visibility was an even bigger problem.
“In the early stages six or seven cars were running in a bunch, and with no windscreen the mud and water thrown up by cars ahead in front of us made life extremely difficult.”
Fourth place overall and third in Class A went to Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR4), who produced the drive of the day and a sparkling performance to scythe their way through the field from the back of the grid. Next up were two KwaZulu-Natal crews with Clint Gibson/Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing Porter) coming in ahead of Daniel Brookes and Gavan Gray (Ducatus Property BAT), who produced their best result since joining the national series earlier in the season.
Seventh place overall and second in Class P went to Richard Fuller and Dennis Murphy, in the Regent Racing BAT, who went into the race with an outside chance of sneaking the championship ahead of Matthews and Smith. As it was they could not match the Century Racing crew for speed and at the finish were more than 15 minutes in arrears.
A third Class P crew completed the top eight with the father and daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne putting together another solid race in the Raysonics Zarco. Unofficial scoring also saw the Coetzees finish third in the championship behind Matthews/Smith and Fuller and Murphy.
Class B produced a win first time out for the father and son combination of Tony and Michael Gouveia in the Gearbox Services BAT. The pair have dominated the Northern Region championship this season, and marked their national debut with a workmanlike performance that saw them finish just outside the top 10.
Despite a non finish in the tricky conditions unofficial scoring saw the Class B championship go to Sidriaan de Villiers and Dwayne Voogt in a UTV.