MATTHEWS/SMITH WIN SPECIAL VEHICLE PROLOGUE ON DESERT RACE
Gaborone, Friday – Century Racing pair Colin Matthews and Alan Smith today produced another of their trademark charges to win the Special Vehicle prologue to determine start positions for the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, which starts in Kumakwane tomorrow.
Matthews and Smith, in the Century Racing CR3, have a simple approach to their racing which dictates they are flat out from the word go. On the only marathon event on the Donaldson Cross Country calendar it may be a cavalier way to tackle the Botswana classic, but it carried them to an 18 second cushion over reigning South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Viper, who won last year’s race.
For their part championship leaders Hutchison and Stassen were 25 seconds clear of former SA champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel Stryker, with the father and son pair spending an uncomfortable night in the desert a couple of years ago. Matthews and Smith took full advantage of the more nimble Class P car to outpace the more powerful Class A brigade.
“Danie and I were very nervous before the start, but we had a clean run,” said Hutchison. “Today’s route was tight and tricky and probably set the tone for the race.
“It is going to be a tough weekend.”
It was a good day for the Motorite team with the father and son pairing of Nick and Ryan Harper bringing home their BAT Venom in fourth place. The Harpers were 16 seconds adrift of the Sullwalds, but were well clear of the husband and wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie who completed the top five in the PHB BAT.
There was an encouraging sixth place result for local driver Keith du Toit and South African co-driver Keith Solomon in the White Star Racing BAT. Du Toit and Solomon were only seven seconds behind the Fouries, but had only 13 seconds in hand over KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell in the Dirt Sport Components Porter.
North West pair Neil Meyer and Joseph Lewis (Maxxis Liqui Moly Rockstar Zarco) came up with their best performance of the season to complete the top eight. Behind them veteran Nardus Alberts and son Louis (Wrapsa BAT) and the Zeelie brothers, Daniel and Louw (Maxxis Liqui Moly Rockstar Porter) in their Desert Race debut, rounded out the top 10.
As was to be expected Matthews and Smith dominated Class P. They were nearly five and a half minutes ahead of the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne in the Raysonics Zarco with Swaziland based driver John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten third in another Zarco.
The biggest losers on the day were former SA champions and Desert Race winners Quintin and Kallie Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel BAT Venom. On a day they will want to forget they trailed in nearly 13 minutes behind the leaders and have a mountain to climb in the race.
The race will start from Kumakwane at 08:00 tomorrow with the designated service point also located at the village about 25 kilometres north west of Gaborone.