SPECIAL VEHICLES ENTER UNKNOWN TERRITORY ON NKOMAZI 400
Another wide open race is on the cards as the Special Vehicle brigade move into unknown territory on the Nkomazi 400, round two of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in Mpumalanga on April 12 and 13.
Based in Malalane the race is a new one on the calendar and will provide additional challenges for a field that is again loaded with quantity and quality. The opening race of the season produced a minor surprise with KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Dirt Sport Components Porter) finally turning potential into a meaningful result.
The RFS 400 win obviously sees Gibson and Campbell feature among the pre-race favourites for the Nkomazi 400, but making it two in a row will be no easy task for the KZN pair. The pair will be under more pressure than normal and there is no shortage of crews with winning potential.
Leading the chasing pack will be reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Venom, and an ominous start to the season on the RFS 400 looks likely to see them once again right up there when it comes to championship challenges. Team-mates Nick and Ryan Harper, in the second Motorite BAT Venom, also started the season on a high note and a win for the pair is long overdue.
Another KZN crew, Daniel Brooks and Gavan Gray (Ducatus Property BAT) are also starting to flex their muscles. They ended last season on a high note and got this year’s campaign off to a solid start with fourth on the RFS 400.
Wins are also overdue for Phalaborwa based former champions Quinton and Kallie Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT Venom) and Hermann and Wichard Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel Stryker. Both teams are out in new cars and will want to quickly recover from shaky starts to the season.
Marius and Jolinda Fourie (PHB BAT) and Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR4) are in the same boat as the Sullwalds. Both teams are potential winners and if everything falls into place for the two teams they could ruffle feathers at the front of the field.
Pieter Ruthven/Leander Pienaar (Ruwacon BAT) and Daniel and Louw Zeelie (Maxxis/Liqui Moly Porter) will be looking for consistency to produce a good result and the progress of newcomers Philip de Vries and Johan Viljoen, in a Porter, will be closely watched. The pair came home sixth on the RFS 400 and that marks them down for special attention.
Brett and Steve Parker (Sizanani Plastics Jimco) would like to add a little spark to their season and the progress of Botswana driver Mogrey Mabille, again paired with Zelda Niemandt (Scoot Racing Porter), will also be closely watched.
Also a danger is the experienced Nardus Alberts and son Louis in the Wrapsa BAT. The pair is another crew who have winners circle appearances to their name.
Developments in Class P will also come under close scrutiny. On any day reigning champions Colin Matthews and Alan Smith (Century Racing CR3) would be classified among those capable of winning overall.
The pair came unstuck on the RFS 400 finishing behind Swazi driver John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten in a Zarco Magnum. In recent seasons the Century Racing pair has generally outpaced the rest of the Class P field and will be keen to reassert their authority.
Consistency is a forte for veteran Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra (Raysonics Zarco) while Keith Makenete/Peter Hlutwa (Zarco) and Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco) will be looking for solid results. There are two other crews, however, who could shake things up a little.
The father and son pair of Tony and Michael Gouveia (Gearbox Services BAT) has dominated the Northern Regions championship and veteran Rob Wark, paired with Jeremy Wood in the K9Racing Aceco will be keen to show there is still life in the old dog. Both crews will be candidates for class podium finishes.
Race headquarters and the designated service park will be at the Riverview Preparatory School with public entry to these areas and spectator points along the route free of charge. Spectator guides will be available at race headquarters and Malalane Toyota.
The prologue to determine race grid position will start at 12:30 on Friday, April 12 and the race at 8:30 the following day.