Tarlton: Series race report

SPECIAL VEHICLE HISTORY AT RFS MAGALIES 400 The Class P brigade won the battle but Class A runners Kallie and Quintin Sullwald won the Special Vehicle war at a dramatic RFS Magalies 400, the final event in the Absa Off Road Championship, at ...

SPECIAL VEHICLE HISTORY AT RFS MAGALIES 400

The Class P brigade won the battle but Class A runners Kallie and Quintin Sullwald won the Special Vehicle war at a dramatic RFS Magalies 400, the final event in the Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway today.

History was made when no fewer than three Class P cars filled the first three places in a race that was packed full of drama. Archie Rutherford and Mile Lawrenson (Regent Racing Jimco) completed a perfect weekend when they came home ahead of Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer (Century Racing CR2) and Johan van Staden and James Rossouw (Atlas Copco BAT), with three Class P cars on the podium for the first time in the history of the Absa series.

The Class P whitewash diverted attention from the father and son Sullwald team who wrapped up the Special Vehicle and Class A championships. The Sullwald's went into the weekend trailing championship leaders Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau by six points, and seventh overall was enough to clinch both titles.

The situation at the front of the field and the championship situation also diverted attention from a superb performance from veterans Keith du Toit and Ashley Thorn (White Star Racing BAT) who were fourth overall and won Class A. Lesotho based Thorn is a former national champion, but for Botswana based du Toit it was his first national victory.

Second and third in Class A were Guy Henley and Warwick Goosen (Century Racing BAT) and Nick Harper and Kevin Hume (Atlas Copco BAT).

It was all over for Variawa and Rousseau when rear suspension damage sidelined them on the first of the two loops that made up the race. The Sullwald's lost their intercom on lap two and were also delayed by a puncture.

"Not being able to communicate verbally made it difficult to stay on the pace," said Sullwald senior. "The puncture also cost us time and we then decided to take it easy and make sure of the championship."

Hopes of overall race wins for the Sullwald's and Variawa/Rousseau disappeared on the Donaldson Prologue to determine race start positions. The two crews were among a string of teams who ran into problems on a wet route and started 39th and 37th respectively.

Rutherford and Lawrenson were surprise winners of the prologue and then proceeded to drive the perfect race. The pair never needed to get out the car, and that is a sure recipe for success over 340 kilometres of racing.

Corbett and Balzer had a clean first loop but a shock absorber problem slowed them on the second lap, and they gradually lost ground on the race leaders. It also saw them fall into the clutches of van Staden and Rossouw, who made history earlier in the season when they became the first Class P crew to win an Absa national event overall.

Third place cemented the Class P overall championship for van Staden and Rossouw. Provisional scoring also saw the Pretoria crew finish third in the overall championship. The Class B honours went to veteran Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra in the Raysonics Zarco. In a family battle they had nearly an hour in hand over driver's champion Bes Bezuidenhout and son Etienne who nursed home a very sick sounding Adenco BAT.

The first event of next year's championship is the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape at the end of March.

REPEAT WIN FOR TAYLOR/HOUGHTON ON RFS MAGALIES 400

Lightning struck twice for Team Castrol Toyota crew Anthony Taylor and Robin Houghton when they won the Production Vehicle category on the RFS Magalies 400, the final event in this year's Absa Off Road Championship, at Tarlton International Raceway.

Taylor and Houghton also won this event last year, and today's win gave the Team Castrol Toyota squad their second victory of the season. It was also a great day for Free State crews with Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling (Ruwacon Ford Ranger) and George Barkhuizen/David van Wyck (AIM Toyota Hilux) who scored career best results to finish second and third respectively.

Any hopes of the overall and SP Class championships developing into count out situations were also laid to rest when champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (RFS Toyota Hilux) and closest challengers Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege (RFS BMW X3) were among the list of non finishers.

A turbo sensor problem sidelined veterans Grobler and ter Stege on the first of two loops that made up the race. Visser/Badenhorst, after leading at the halfway mark, joined them as spectators on loop two with a broken radiator.

"It was a disappointing way to end the season, but we have had a wonderful year," said Visser. "For a privateer team to win this championship is a feather in the cap for the entire squad."

Donaldson Prologue to determine start positions for the race. Team-mates Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, who romped away with the prologue, were in trouble early on and limped through the first loop with power steering problems.

The same problem hit Taylor and Houghton late in the race. They also picked up a misfire and a puncture, and in the end only had 44 seconds on de Bruin and Bezuidenhout.

De Bruin and Greyling started third and sixth in class respectively, and were rewarded for steady performances. De Bruyn and Greyling were in control of third place throughout the race, while Barkhuizen/van Wyck profited from the demise of Visser/Badenhorst and Grobler/ter Stege, who started ahead of them.

A brave drive took former SA champions Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer into fifth in the Team Ford Ranger TDCi. They lost a wheel on the prologue, started from the back of the field and had to hold off a determined challenge from Class D winners Deon Venter and Ian Palmer in the RFS/4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux.

The win also clinched the Class D championship for Venter and Palmer. They were the only Class D finishers with outgoing champions Dewald van Breda and Johann du Toit (Northam Toyota Hilux) and Cliff Weichelt/Johan Smalberger (N1 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser) falling by the wayside with mechanical gremlins.

Former champions Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable (Team Ford Ranger) took the Class E honours with Schroder standing in for injured teenager Lance Woolridge. The result gave Huxtable the co-drivers championship with the Ford Ranger to be retired after winning a fifth national title.

Woolridge missed out on the driver's title when Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus (RFS 4x4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) came home third behind the Ruwacon Ford Ranger of Gerald le Roux and Willem Pretorius. Provisional scoring gave Labuschagne the driver's title, with Erasmus again missing the championship bus after the pair lost last year's championship by a single point.

Next year's Absa Off Road Champion will kick off with the Adenco 400 in the Western Cape at the end of March.

-source: saorc

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Series Other rally
Drivers Ian Palmer , Mark Corbett , Duncan Vos , Japie Badenhorst