“It was a fantastic race. We had a really nice dice at the front, changing the lead with the first production vehicle 6 or 7 times – it was brilliant stuff!” said Cox, who has only started racing the powerful Motorite BAT this year.
Racing with the help of experienced off-road navigator Hennie ter Stege in the co-driver’s seat, Cox lost out on a win thanks to a pair of punctures after leading the pack for most of the event.
Team-mates Evan Hutchinson and Achim Bergmann crossed the line in Alfie’s dust after also challenging for the lead for most of the 400 km distance.
“Starting first of the specials after a trouble-free prologue on Friday, we took an early lead on the road after passing the leading production vehicle 30 km from the start. Then we lost the odo in the riverbed racing section halfway to the designated service point about two-thirds into the race.
“It was extremely difficult for Hennie to calculate distances between instructions, and we were overshooting one after the other turn,” said Cox. In spite of the fact that for the first time in South Africa they were racing with the help of a GPS (Cox has vast experience with GPS racing in the many Dakar races he has done on two wheels), Duncan Vos caught up with them in the leading Nissan Navara in Class SP of the production vehicle category.
“It was brilliant stuff – Duncan and I must have changed the lead about 6 or 7 times until they past us a last time about 6 km before the last refuel and built up a 4 to 5 min lead.”
Then the speeding Motorite BAT picked up its first puncture. “We were 3 km from the DSP and leading our own when we had to stop to change a flat wheel. Gary Bertholdt passed us, but we caught up and passed him about 20 km later,” said Cox.
The second puncture for the leading Motorite BAT allowed their team-mates and Bertholdt to pass them, but Hutchinson wrong-slotted allowing Cox back into second.
“We had more than 50 km to go to the finish and Bertholdt had built up a 3-minute lead by then. Without anymore spares, it would have been ridiculous to try and take him on for the win, and we decided to settle into second.
“All in all it was a fantastic event, although the road book could have been better. But the organisers were fantastic, and Willie Prinsloo and his team did a wonderful job with the brand-new route,” he said.
Team Motorite’s third team meber, Brandon Harcus and Marcelle Trethewey, had a difficult event complicated by technical and mechanical problems, but managed 8th overall and 7th in Class A after starting 10th.