It did not take former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald, in a Motorite BAT Venom, long to get back into the Special Vehicle winners circle in the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship.
The son – recently married – and his father held on to win the Vredefort Super Sprint, round two of this year’s Donaldson series, by a slender margin. The Sullwalds sat out the whole of last season but held their nerve to eke out a 12 second win ahead of Cobalt Racing Stryker pair Jimmy Zahos and Zaheer Bodhanya, with Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse rounding out the podium in a Chenowth.
Former South African champions Quintin and Kallie Sullwald in their Motorite BAT Venom
Image by Waldo van der Waal
The race was run over two 100 kilometre loops and was a new innovation on the Donaldson calendar. It drew a huge response from cross country enthusiasts, and a favourable reception for the format from the majority of crews.
“It was a great event but we are just happy to be back in the Donaldson fold,” said Quintin. The Sullwalds, however, found themselves in fourth place and just four seconds ahead of Zahos/Bodhanya after the first 100 kilometre loop.
Atlas Copco BAT pair Sarel van Biljon and Philip Herselman looked to be on course for a maiden national championship victory when they led reigning national champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Viper) by 59 seconds after the first lap. But lap two proved to be a disaster for both crews.
Van Biljon and Herselman were within 15 kilometres from the finish when they broke a side shaft and were forced to retire. Hutchison and Stassen lost nearly 15 minutes replacing a broken engine belt, and in a sprint event it was a calamity that dropped them to 14th overall and 10th in Class A.
Van Pletzen and Pieterse, in the ageing Chenowth, were third and only 12 seconds behind Hutchison/Stassen at the break, but on the second loop could not hold off the Sullwalds and Zahos/Bodhanya. They came in 41 seconds adrift of Zahos and Bodhanya but had the satisfaction of landing their first podium finish.
The husband and wife pairing of Marius and Jolinda Fourie, in the PHB BAT, were a solid fourth but were handicapped on the second loop when they lost second gear. The Fouries managed to fend off Lourens and Carien Booysen (BAT) who, in turn, had a 45 second cushion over Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra in the ChemSystems Porter.
Werner Kennedy and Tinus Venter took their first national class win
Image by Waldo van der Waal
For the second event in a row reigning champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco) had to be content with second place in Class P. Hampered by an overheating problem on the first loop, the pair finished 39 seconds behind Werner Kennedy and Tinus Venter (Aceco) who are graduates from the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship and took their first national class win.
Kennedy/Venter and Thomson/Zermatten were seventh and eighth overall with the top 10 rounded out by two other Class P crews in Brian Baragwanath/Marc de Chalain (Century Racing CR-T) and veterans Nic Goslar/Andrew Massy in the Men’s Health Zarco. Baragwanath, on the quad category podium on the Dakar Rally, was making his cross country debut with de Chalain back in action after a lengthy break from the sport.
Class P, with ten entries including other newcomers in Hendrik Uys and Gavin Bennett in another CR-T, had a competitive feel about it. In their first outing Uys and Bennett were an encouraging fourth ahead of regulars Grant Watkins/Paul Mare (Zarco) and John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe in the Hellcat.
The next event on the calendar offers the Special Vehicle brigade a complete contrast – and one that will be to the liking of those crews who have a preference for the longer distance events. The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race will again be based in Jwaneng from June 24 to 26.