HUTCHISON/STASSEN TAKE OVER DAKAR CHALLENGE LEAD
Jwaneng, Botswana – Reigning Special Vehicle champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen took over the lead in the Dakar Challenge, a race within race, at the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race here today.
A good day for the Motorite BAT Viper crew saw them go from fourth after the Friday qualifying race, into a two minute and 34 second lead after the first racing section. The Dakar Challenge is run in conjunction with the Desert Race with the winners earning a free entry to the Dakar Rally in South America in 2015.
Hutchison and Stassen took over the lead from Production Vehicle crew Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau in the factory Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger. The Motorite crew spent the day sniping away at other top teams in the Special Vehicle category and built up plenty of momentum.
“The route is fast with no margin for error, but we had some great dices at the front of the field,” said Hutchison. “It has been a good day, but this is the Desert Race and anything can happen.”
Republic of Congo brothers Eduardo and Riccardo Argazzi put together another solid performance to move into third place. They were five minutes and 21 seconds behind Bertholdt and Rousseau, and that might be a bridge to far for the brothers.
The Argazzis held a two and a half minute advantage over North West youngsters Jason Venter and Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) who turned in a workmanlike display. The top five was completed by Regent Racing Nissan Navara pair Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson who came in ahead of Hennie de Klerk/Johann Smalberger (RFS/Treasury One BMW X3) and team-mates Terence Marsh and Springbok rugby legend Stefan Terblanche in the Regent Racing Nissan Navara.
The final racing section will start at 08:00 in Jwaneng with crews tackling two loops of 225 kilometres. There will be a compulsory 15 minute halt at the end of the first lap.