Gauteng 400 post-race championship notes

DRAMATIC CHAMPIONSHIP WIN FOR MARSH AND WHITEHOUSE The script that saw Terence March and Mike Whitehouse win the Special Vehicle South African championship at the Ford Carnival City 400 over the weekend would have done credit to an award winning...

DRAMATIC CHAMPIONSHIP WIN FOR MARSH AND WHITEHOUSE

The script that saw Terence March and Mike Whitehouse win the Special Vehicle South African championship at the Ford Carnival City 400 over the weekend would have done credit to an award winning soap opera.

The final event of the Absa Off Road Championship produced a compelling victory for Gerhard du Plessis and Ferdi Seegers, in a Jimco, who completely dominated a race of attrition that saw only eight classified finishers in the Special Vehicle category. Second were Clint Gibson and Marcelle Trethewey, in the Gibson Plant Hire BAT, with Shameer Variawa and VZ van Zyl third in the Total Motorsport Porter.

It was post race proceedings, however, that produced all the drama. For a time it looked as though a national championship had been won and lost in bizarre circumstances.

Going into the event Marsh and Whitehouse, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, led the father and son pair of Nick and Ryan Harper, in a BAT Audi, by eight points. When Marsh and Whitehouse crossed the finish line in fifth place behind the Harpers, it looked as though the Nashua Mobile team could crack open the champagne.

Then came the bombshell. The pair were excluded from the results for missing a control point on one of the two laps of a figure of eight course.

A mortified Marsh and Whitehouse were adamant they had legally completed the course, and set in motion a series of behind-closed-doors meeting with race officials. After officials had checked and re-checked event sequence sheets, Marsh and Whitehouse were reinstated in the results, and the victory celebrations were back on track.

Not so lucky were Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod in the Motorite Racing BAT running in Class B. The pair caused a stir when they appeared out of nowhere to cross the finish line behind Gibson and Trethewey who, after winning the recent Toyota Dealer 1000, continued their good form.

Hutchison and Ormerod were then excluded from the results for missing a loop on the route. They accepted their fate but already had the Class B championship in the bag after a great performance on the Toyota Dealer 1000, the penultimate round of the Absa Off road Championship.

There was more drama when Variawa and van Zyl were docked an hour, which dropped them down the pecking order, for a technical offence. That, too, was overturned and when the dust had settled they were back in third place ahead of the Harpers and the Marsh/Whitehouse combination.

The first five cars were all Class A entries and with Hutchison/Ormerod excluded the Class B win, and sixth overall, went to brothers Rudi and Pierre van Graan in the Technochair Zarco. Behind them father and son pair Rob and Gareth Wark (Superpave Chenowth) and Bevan Bertholdt and Nick Selamolela, in the iBurst BAT, completed the list of classified finishers in seventh and eighth places respectively.

With Marsh/Whitehead winning the overall championship and Class A and Hutchison/Ormerod already crowned Class B champions, the only other title issue to be settled was in Class S. Here old timers Richard Schilling and former motorcycle star Chris Davies, in the Plastotech Raceco, made sure of the title despite being among those who fell by the wayside.

Engine problems sidelined Schilling and Davies but nearest challengers Naeem Moosajee and Naazim Moti were among the victims of a tough course made tougher by weather conditions. When the event cut-off point rolled around Moosajee and Moti were still out on the route and joined a large did not finish brigade.

-msa-

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