Former champions return for new season

FORMER CHAMPIONS BACK IN HARNESS Two of the most successful off road racers in the early 90s will be back in harness in this year's Absa Off Road Championship, which gets underway with the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape on March 17 ...

FORMER CHAMPIONS BACK IN HARNESS

Two of the most successful off road racers in the early 90s will be back in harness in this year's Absa Off Road Championship, which gets underway with the Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape on March 17 and 18.

Brothers Hermann and Karl-Heinz Sullwald teamed up to win the Special Vehicle Cross Country Championship way back in 1994, and were runners-up in the national championship the following year. Now the Sullwald's will be competing in a two-car team in this year's championship with Hermann teaming up with wife Bertha and Karl-Heinz with long-time family friend Paul Helberg.

"After a 10 year sabbatical due to family commitments and running the family transport business in Phalaborwa, Karl-Heinz and I decided to test the waters last season," said Hermann. "We did a few races in singleseaters and were hooked again.

"The upshot was that we commissioned Zarco to build us two twinseater specials, and both cars will run in Class A. We think campaigning locally built cars as opposed to ultra expensive overseas imports will have an impact on the local scene."

With years of experience behind them, the Sullwald's have put together a highly professional infrastructure. And in Helberg, who has been the technical guru for Sullwald Racing since 1992, they have an ace up their sleeves.

"We have always believed that 80 percent of a race is won in the workshops," said Sullwald. "On this score Paul is a key element in the team.

"Although both he and Bertha will be co-driving for the first time, Paul's real strength will be on the technical side."

Off-road racing is very much a family affair, and the Sullwald effort will keep up the tradition. Mom Olga will be responsible for keeping cooler boxes and stomachs full, and will have help from other family members.

"I started out on bikes way back in 1981 and Karl-Heinz has been racing since 1990," said Hermann. "We are both excited about being back in racing full-time, and hopefully we can win more championships."

The Nissan Dealer 400 gets underway with a 40km Prologue to determine starting positions at 13h00 on Friday, March 17 and the main event starts at the Darling Club at 08h00 on Saturday, March 18.

-msa-

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