Sugarbelt: Competition heats up

"Needle" adds to clash of top crews at Nissan Sugarbelt 400. A little "needle" between two top Special Vehicle crews will add some spice to the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round two of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in KwaZulu-Natal on May 10 and...

"Needle" adds to clash of top crews at Nissan Sugarbelt 400.

A little "needle" between two top Special Vehicle crews will add some spice to the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round two of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in KwaZulu-Natal on May 10 and 11.

A war of words has broken out between Atang Makgekgenene and Paul Andre, winners of the Barberspan 500 in a SAM Racing Jimco, and the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel BMW Jimco pair of John Weir-Smith and Tony George. After starting stone last on the Barberspan 500, the Weir-Smith / George combination carved their way through the field to finish second to Makgekgenene and Andre who took their first national win.

"Atang and I are good friends and he is a more than competent driver, but I reckon he and Paul were a little lucky to sneak the Barberspan 500 win," said Weir-Smith. "We were leading at the designated service point, but then hit a tree and picked up a puncture. That allowed Atang and Paul to grab the win, and we won't make the same mistakes on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400.

"Tony prepares the car and has done a great job, and in a straight fight they will have their hands full over the rest of the season. We are out for revenge and the KwaZulu-Natal race is as good a place as any to start."

For his part Makgekgenene is unmoved by the Weir-Smith / George challenge. "We have beaten them once and can do it again," he said. "What happened to them at Barberspan is exactly what I went through last year at the same race, but I have already forgotten about it.

"They did well to come from the back of the field, but we got the job done without any fuss last year. There is no need to start looking over our shoulders this early in the season."

With a number of other personal little battles likely to emerge in both the Special Vehicle and Production Vehicle categories, the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 is poised to produce some interesting racing. Adding to the pot is the fact that highly fancied crews who bombed out on the Barberspan 500, will be looking to reassert themselves.

"A little war talk between crews is always a good sign," said MSA Off-Road Car Racing Commission president Piet Swanepoel. "It indicates just how keen crews are to win events, and is a further indication of just how competitive the Bankfin Off-Road Championship has become."

-msa-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Tony George