Reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen decimated the rest of the field to win the Special Vehicle category at the Lichtenburg 450, round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, in the North West province on Saturday, 30 July 2016.

Hutchison and Stassen, in the Motorite BAT Viper, were over 12 minutes ahead of second placed Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne in the 4×4 Mega World Porter. It was a tremendous performance by the Labuscagnes who scored their maiden podium finish, with Australian Dave McShane and South African co-driver Leander Pienaar in third place in the Fox Racing Porter.

Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen

Image by Waldo van der Waal

The result sets up an interesting battle at the top of the overall and Class A championships with McShane and Pienaar leading a quartet of crews going into the North West province race. Non finishes for Sarel van Biljon/Phillip Herselman (Atlas Copco BAT) and Jimmy Zahos and Zaheer Bodhanya (Cobalt Racing Stryker) saw the two crews lose ground to Hutchison/Stassen and McShane and Pienaar.

Hutchison and Stassen won the 84 kilometre qualifying race to determine grid positions and it turned out to be the perfect weekend for the reigning champions. Both van Biljon/Herselman and Zahos/Bodhanya were out of contention on the first of two laps that made up the route, with McShane and Pienaar also encountering rear brake problems.

That promoted the Labuscagnes, who started the race in fifth position, up the order. It was Ms Labuscagne’s first race since an appearance on the Baja event in Italy, a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup, where she and New Zealand driver Emma Gilmour won the award for the highest placed female competitors.

Andre Fourie/Hendrik Pienaar and Marius and Jolinda Fourie completed the top five in a pair of PHB BAT entries. It was also a season best for Andre Fourie and Pienaar, with the other Fourie crew also encountering brake problems.

John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten

Image by Waldo van der Waal

The next three places were all filled by Class P crews with reigning champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum) making up ground on Guy Henley/Marc de Chalain (Century Racing CR2) who won the qualifying event. In an exciting finish Swaziland based Thomson and Alberton based Zermatten crossed the line a scant 16 seconds ahead of Henley and de Chalain to increase their championship lead.

Andrew Makenete and Victor Ntsekhe (Zarco Magnum) were third with Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) fourth and the last of the classified finishers. Goslar/Massey started from the back of the field after failing to finish the qualifying race, and rescued precious championship points.

The next event on the calendar is the Nkomazi 450 in Malalane on August 26 and 27. The race will also incorporate a round of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship, and is annually turned into a community project by residents in Malalane and surrounding areas.