While two of the three championships in the Special Vehicle championship have already been settled, the prestige overall and Class A titles are still at stake. And just to make matters more mouth watering a winner takes all scenario exists between two crews.
Just five points separate leaders Nick and Ryan Harper, in the Atlas Copco BAT, and Evan Hutchison and Achim Bergmann, in the Motorite BAT, in the overall stakes. In the Class A championship it is even closer with just two points separating the two crews.
Adding to the intrigue is a contrast in styles. The Harpers have won once this season and like to grind away at the opposition.
Hutchison and Bergmann have won three times and are chargers. It all adds up to fascinating battle between the two teams with high stakes – but there are more factors that add to the intrigue.
There are at least half a dozen other crews who could win at Carnival City and there is a bottleneck of teams fighting over third place in the championships. Outgoing champions Alfie Cox/Hennie ter Stege, in the second Motorite BAT, are tied with Terence Marsh/Pieter Groenewald (Regent Racing BAT) with Clint Gibson (Absolute BAT) in the thick of things in the driver’s championship.
Only two points behind this group are former champion Shameer Variawa and Siegfried Rousseau in the Total Motorsport Porter. And, a point behind them, are Colin Matthews and Alan Smith, in the Century Property Development BAT, who have emerged as a powerful force over the latter part of the season.
Hutchison/Bergmann will be looking to Cox/ter Stege to run interference, and the Harpers will be hoping Atlas Copco team-mates Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minnitt, in a Porter, can find some kind of form. But first with Henry Kirstein and now with Minnitt it has not been a happy season for Bertholdt.
Being beaten into second place by Matthews/Smith on the recent Toyota Dealer 400 in Mpumalanga hurt the Harpers – but helped set up a dream finish to the season. It meant that in the overall championship a win for Hutchison/Bergmann at the Ford Carnival City 400, and a second for the Harpers, would leave the Atlas Copco pair a point shy of winning the title.
Over the years the Ford Carnival City 400 has earned a reputation as a wet race. But wet or dry this year the stage is set for an absolute cracker of a race.
While Hendrik and Jan Kraaij (Regent Racing BAT) wrapped up the Class B championship after five successive wins, the battle for second place is a fascinating one. The fact that only a single point separates the two teams in contention is enough to make it interesting,
But the fact that family is involved with a father trying to fight off two sons, makes it even more intriguing. Bez Bezuidenhout and Johann de Bruyn, in an Adenco BAT, are one point ahead of Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout, who won the recent Toyota Dealer 400, in another Adenco BAT.
The Kraaij’s, after a recent hiccup or two, would like to end on a high note and will start the obvious favourites. But the battle of the Bezuidenhout’s is going to be a focal point and opens up some interesting thoughts in terms of team orders coming into play.
The Class S title also done and dusted could lead to something of an antic climax. Veterans Richard Schilling and Chris Davies, in the Aceco, have dominated the class throughout the season and wrapped up the title on the Toyota event.
With the title in the bag the pressure is off Schilling/Davies in another of their battles with arch rivals out going drivers champion Nic Goslar and Richard Carolin in the Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco. Glenn Gibson and Mark Whitehurst in the Absolute Aceco will make it an interesting three-way battle.
Class A has been hugely competitive all season and off road pundits always expected the title race to go all the way to the wire. The only real surprise is that, at the death, there are only two teams involved in the final winner take all battle.