Superteam Tarka 400 summary

Superteam does well but Weir-Smith runs out of talent on Tarka 400 There were cheers and tears for the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam after the recent Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400, round five of the SA Off Road Championship for Special ...

Superteam does well but Weir-Smith runs out of talent on Tarka 400

There were cheers and tears for the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Superteam after the recent Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400, round five of the SA Off Road Championship for Special Vehicles...presented by Absa.

Toyota 1000 Desert Race winners John Weir-Smith and Geoff Minnitt's charge came to a grinding halt 600 metres from the start of the main event when a drive shaft broke on the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Jimco. The pair spent 55 minutes replacing the drive shaft before continuing on an high-speed charge through the 52 car field.

After 150 kilometres they had moved from last to 6th overall in the Special Vehicle category and were only 30 minutes behind race leaders Gary Bertholdt and Brandon Harcus in the BAT, but then all hell broke loose. Weir-Smith mistimed the second of three jumps and the Jimco launched three storeys into the air and flew 75 metres before it came crashing down to earth.

"I have to admit that my concentration wasn't what it should have been at that point and when I mistimed the jump I knew we were in for a wild ride," said Weir-Smith. "Quite frankly I ran out of talent and have never flown so high and so far in the Jimco and Geoff and I just held on for dear life hoping that we would emerge unscathed from the carnage that was to follow."

"The impact when the Jimco hit the ground was horrendous but despite this I tried to drive on only to discover that we were going nowhere fast," added Weir-Smith. "The force of the impact ripped the left rear swing arm apart, sheared twelve aircraft specification bolts and the wheel, hub and drive shaft parted company with the rest of the chassis."

Weir-Smith was uninjured but Minnitt has been suffering from back problems since the incident and is undergoing treatment for his condition.

"This is a season I would rather forget," said Weir-Smith. "We've had to replace three BMW 540 V8 engines in four races and, apart from winning in Botswana, have not finished another event."

There were tears too for Gareth Wark who ran solo in the Class B O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Mighty Mag and was well placed before steering problems again forced him into retirement.

He and father Rob previously shared the drive but a neck injury has sidelined Wark Sr.

There much to celebrate when Superteam co-founder Andre Botha and Beans Heydenrych completed their first race in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Chev and won Class F to boot. Botha and Heydenrych are rookies in the championship and are slowly getting to grips with their American built vehicle.

Nic Goslar and new co-driver Warren Bowe finished third overall and first in Class S in the O'Hagan's/Kopanong Hotel Raceco after a race long battle with arch rivals Mohammed Noor and Mohammed Moultsen in the Superveg Raceco. Goslar has moved from eighth to fourth in the Special Vehicle Driver's Championship and, barring no problems for the rest of the season, is a contender for the title.

"I'm disappointed by what happened to Gareth, John and Geoff but am delighted by Nic and Warren's performance and ecstatic that Beans and I finished our first race," said Botha. "No one can quite understand how important the Finisher's Award, which is an off road racing tradition, is and we are now the proud owners of what we hope will be the first of many."

"Superteam technicians are working round the clock to ready the four vehicles for the next race, especially the critically wounded Jimco, and I'm confident the full team will be in action on the Sun City 400 on September 26 and 27," concluded Botha.

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