document : Special Vehicle win for Sullwalds on Nkomazi 450

Special Vehicle win for Sullwalds on Nkomazi 450
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media) 17 May 2014

358341 Special Vehicle win for Sullwalds on Nkomazi 450

Nkomazi 450 – Round three Donaldson Cross Country Championship
Location: Malalane – Mpumalanga
Special Vehicles race results: Class A – 1 Q Sullwald/K-H Sullwald (BAT Venom); 2 G du Plessis/H du Plessis (Jimco); 3 L Trethewey/G Minnitt (BAT Venom). Class P – 1 J Thomson/M Zermatten (Zarco); 2 R Wark/A Thorn (Aceco); 3 C Matthews/R Burke (CR3)

Malalane, Saturday – Two father and son combinations dominated the Special Vehicle category on the Nkomazi 450, round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, here today.

Former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald, in the Elegant Fuel BAT Venom, strolled to a convincing victory to reignite their challenge in the overall and Class A title races. The Sullwalds failed to make it to the finish last time out on the Toyota Dealer 450, but cruised to their second win of the season.

The Sullwalds had plenty to spare over another father and son combination in Gerhard and Hardus du Plessis in a Jimco. The du Plessis pair started the day with a 15 point lead in the two title chases, but kept the momentum going with their third podium finish in three races.

For Hardus du Plessis, who is only 16, three podium finishes in his first three races is a remarkable achievement. Again, however, the youngster simply shrugged his shoulders and said his dad did all the hard work.

Third place went to Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt in the LTE/Mortimer Toyota BAT Venom, with the pair overcoming a dodgy qualifying race to stage a strong comeback. It was their first podium in a car recently bought from reigning champion Evan Hutchison.

It was a little ironic that Hutchison and local favourite Danie Stassen should be the biggest losers on the event. Their title hopes were severely dented when they lost a wheel on the first of the 175 kilometre loops that made up the race, and were sidelined for the second race in a row.

“Coupled with a win in the qualifying race this has been a good weekend for us,” said son Quintin after his third victory as a driver. “It was a tough but relatively trouble free race, and it was the sort of result we needed after our non finish on the Toyota Dealer 500.”

The du Plessis pair were hampered by a brake problem but father Gerhard admitted they could not match the Sullwalds for pace in a Jimco that first raced in South Africa in 2000.

“It was a difficult race, but we did not make any costly mistakes,” said du Plessis senior. “Hardus did another good job and we are enjoying ourselves.”

Trethewey and Minnitt started eighth among the Special Vehicles but made steady progress through the field. They also picked up places via retirements and reported a clean run.

“We did not have any issues but on this route it was difficult to overtake,” said Minnitt. “It was a combination of a tight route and dust but a podium place for the new car was a good result for us.”

One of the drives of the race came from Swaziland based John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten in a Zarco. A tremendous performance netted them fourth place overall and cemented their position at the top of the Class P championship.

There was, however, a dramatic start to the category with qualifying race winners Keith Makenete and Moalosi Borotho contriving to roll their CRC Zarco about three kilometres into the race. That opened up the way for Thomson and Zermatten to pick up their second win on the trot.

Two KwaZulu-Natal crews – Daniel Brookes/Gavan Gray (Ducatus Property BAT) and Arthur Barnes/Anthony Usher (BAT) – also recovered from disappointing qualifying race performances. Strong race showings took them into fifth and sixth ahead of Capetonian Derick du Toit and Craig Gray in the CRC BAT.

Veterans Rob Wark and Ashley Thorn (K9 Racing Aceco) rolled back the years to finish eighth overall and second in Class P. They came in ahead of Colin Matthews/Rodney Burke (Century Racing CR3) with Brett Parker and VZ van Zyl, after a difficult day that saw them slip down the leaderboard, completing the top 10 in the Sizanani Plastics Jimco.

Matthews, who won this race overall last year, and Burke started around 40 minutes behind the class leaders. A typically aggressive Matthews drive saw them plough their way through the field – although they were a little lucky to finish.

“We tried a little too hard in the forest section and damaged the chassis,” said Matthews. “Fortunately the car stayed together until the finish.”

The next event on the calendar is the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 27 to 29.

Follow the Donaldson Cross Country Championship action on:

Special Vehicle win for Sullwalds on Nkomazi 450.pdf (242kB)

2014 Nkomazi 450 - Final Special Vehicle Category.pdf (111kB)

2014 Nkomazi 450 - Final Special Vehicle Class.pdf (111kB)

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