SULLWALD CREW CLINCH TITLE IN DRAMATIC SPECIAL VEHICLE FINALE
The father and son crew of Hermann and Wichard Sullwald today sneaked in via the back door to win the South African Special Vehicle championship when they took a dramatic win on the RFS Magalies 400, the final event of the Absa off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway.
The Sullwalds, in the Sullwald Racing SVR, started the day lying third in the championship behind reigning champions Kallie and Quintin Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, and former champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the Motorite Revo 4x4. Drama unfolded throughout the day as first Hutchison/Stassen and then Kallie and Quintin Sullwald ran into problems.
The Sullwalds came home 36 seconds ahead of another father and son team in Nardus and Louis Alberts, in the Wrapsa BAT, who were making only their third appearance of the season. Third place went to Atlas Copco BAT pair Johan van Staden and James Rossouw, who took their second podium finish of the year, with just over a minute separating the first three cars.
After winning the Donaldson Prologue to determine grid positions on Friday, Herman and Wichard Sullwald completed a dominant weekend with a flag to flag victory that was not without its hiccups. After crossing the finish line the Sullwalds had to wait to see if their sister crew finished in the top seven to deprive them of a maiden national title.
The reigning champions were, however, stranded out on the course with electrical problems 10 kilometres from the finish. Hutchison and Stassen, after a myriad of problems, finally limped home 13th overall with their championship challenge ending on the first of two laps that made up the race.
Two races ago it appeared as though Hermann and Wichard Sullwald were out of the championship race. A solid performance on the Human Auto 400 brought them back into the picture with Wichard, at 23, becoming the youngest overall champion in the history of the Absa championship.
“You have to have some sympathy with Kallie and Quintin, but that is motor racing,” said Wichard afterwards. “It was a good weekend for us but a broken shock absorber hampered us on the second loop.
“We also discovered a gearbox leak at the finish which could have developed into something serious.”
David White and Etienne Bezuidenhout were a solid fourth in the Ruwacon Racing BAT with Human Auto 400 winners Marius and Jolinda Fourie completing the top five. The Fourie’s took the Class P honours ahead of Richard Fuller and Denis Murphy (Atlas Copco BAT) and Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey in the Men’s Health International Zarco.
Fourth place was enough to give the Class P title to the Regent Racing Jimco pair of Archie Rutherford and Mike Lawrenson. The Regent Racing crew won this event overall last year.
The Class B honours went to the father and daughter pairing of Coetzee and Sandra Labuschagne in the Raysonics Zarco. Veteran Wolf Peter Pfumfei, in a singleseater WPP, was the only other finisher in the category.