There has been a changing of the guard in the Special Vehicle category title race after the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, in Botswana.
Evan Huchison and Dannie Stassen

Image by Waldo van der Waal

There are new leaders in the driver and co-driver overall championships with tight battles between the main title contenders. Anomalies in points allocated for overall and class results has also lead to a situation where there are different leaders in the race for the overall drivers’ and Class A drivers’ titles.

Drivers also took full advantage of the fact that Australian Dave McShane is not eligible to score points in either the overall or Class A championships. McShane, with South African co-driver Leander Pienaar, was second in the first heat and won the second race in the Fox Racing BAT.

Winning the qualifying race and finishing sixth and fourth in the overall results lifted Jimmy Zahos (Cobalt Racing Stryker) into a tie with reigning champion Evan Hutchison (Motorite BAT Viper) in the overall standings. Hutchison failed to see out the full race distance in heat one and finished second in heat two, but was credited with the win because of the McShane situation.

The two leaders have a two point advantage over Sarel van Biljon (Atlas Copco BAT) with a big jump to John Thomson (Zarco), the first of the Class P competitors, and Quinton Sullwald (Motorite BAT Venom) who lead the overall championship prior to the Botswana race. Sullwald was a late withdrawal from the Desert Race and is bracketed with Thomson 23 points behind Zahos and Hutchison.

Next up are first heat winners Mark Corbett (Century Racing CR5) and Nic Goslar (SA Clinics Zarco) who is the second of the Class P competitors. But while Zahos and Hutchison are level pegging in the overall championship there is a slightly different scenario in Class A.

Two fourth places in Class A as opposed to a ‘did not finish’ and a win has earned Zahos a one point advantage over Hutchison. A third and a second place in the two heats has left van Biljon three points behind Hutchison in what has developed into a tight contest.

Once again there is a gap between the three leaders and Sullwald, du Toit and Corbett who trails Zahos by 38 points. In the context of 30 points awarded for a win those chasing the three leaders have a sizeable mountain to climb.

The intruder in the woodpile in both the overall and Class A navigators’ championship is Leander Pienaar. A hugely successful weekend with McShane rocketed Pienaar to the top of the leader board.

In both the overall co-driver and Class A standings Pienaar leads from Zaheer Bodhanya, Danie Stassen and Philip Herselman who share cars with Zahos, Hutchison and van Biljon respectively. Kallie Sullwald, who shares the second Motorite BAT with his son, and Maurice Zermatten who reads the notes for Thomson, complete the top six and the only differences in the two championships are slight variations in the points tally.

John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten lead the class P title race

Image by Waldo van der Waal

The situation in Class P is much less complicated. Reigning champions Thomson and Zermatten clinched their first win of the season in heat two, and combined with second in the first race it saw the pair increase their championship lead to 39 points.

That also gives them a race in hand over Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey, who won the first heat before spoiling a great start to the season by failing to finish heat two. Goslar/Massey are now 10 points ahead of John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Hellcat), who failed to finish race one, and who now have Grant Watkins and Paul Mare (Zarco) lurking a point further back after two good results.

The top five in Class P are rounded out by RFS Endurance winners Willem du Toit and Bertus Goussard (CR-T), and newcomers Hendrik Uys and Gavin Bennett in another CR-T. Du Toit/Goussard trail Watkins/Mare by five points with Uys/Bennett a further three points in arrears.

The next event on the Donaldson calendar will be held in Lichtenburg on July 29 and 30. The event will be round four of the Donaldson series and incorporates round five of the Northern Regions championship.