Lydenburg, Saturday – Reigning South African champions Hermann and Wichard Sullwald needed a protest to win a drama filled Special Vehicle category on the Toyota Dealer 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, which ended here today.
The Sullwald father and son team, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, finished behind Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson, in the Atlas Copco BAT, on the road with Nardus and Louis Alberts third in the Wrapsa BAT. Then drama struck when race officials hit van Staden/Lawrenson and the Sullwalds with penalties for deviating from the route on the first of two 175 kilometre loops that made up the race.
That lifted the Alberts father and son combination into first place ahead of brothers Laurence and Gerhard du Plessis (Zarco Magnum) with van Staden/Lawrenson slipping to third place. The Sullwalds were relegated to fifth place behind former SA champion Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen in the Motorite BAT Venom.
The Sullwalds then protested against a five minute penalty. Their protest was upheld by the stewards of the meeting and they went to the top of the leaderboard ahead of the Alberts and du Plessis teams.
A yo-yo ride up and down the leaderboard continued for van Staden and Lawrenson and they found themselves dropping to fourth place ahead of Hutchison and Stassen. The results, however, are under notice of appeal and at this stage are provisional.
The final scoring saw the Sullwalds finish nearly two seconds ahead of the Alberts pairing who finished a scant three seconds ahead of the du Plessis brothers. The brothers also benefited from scoring changes and profited from a 20 second credit when they were held up by spectator traffic at a control point.
“It was a brilliant race,” said Sullwald senior after all the drama. “It was a real off road route and a slipping clutch was our only concern.”
KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Gibson Racing Porter) were also penalised for a route deviation, but had enough time in hand to hold onto sixth place ahead of Mark Corbett and Julien Hardy in the Century Racing CR4. The final gap between the two cars was a slim 22 seconds.
Corbett and Hardy came in ahead of Century Racing team-mates Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the CR3, who took the Class P honours. For Matthews and Smith it was their second successive Class P win, and gives them an early hold on the championship.
Among the high profile casualties were two-time SA champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel BAT, and Sizanani Jimco pair Steve Parker and VZ van Zyl. The Sullwalds found themselves stranded in a mud hole while a string of punctures led to a “bad day at the office” for Parker and van Zyl.
It was also a tough day for a number of Class P competitors. Brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete (Zarco), the father and daughter pair of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne (Raysonics Zarco) and Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey (Men’s health International Zarco) all fell by the wayside.
The next event on the championship calendar is the Atlas Copco Timbertrack 400 in Richmond, in KwaZulu-Natal, on May 18 and 19