While the premier overall and Class A championships have been settled in favour of off road legend Alfie Cox and Hennie Ter Stege, from the Motorite BAT camp, the Class B and Class S titles are still up in the air. And, the manner in which the overall and Class A titles were settled on the recent Toyota Dealer 400, suggests there could be a little ill feeling among top crews.
After winning the Toyota Dealer 400 the Atlas Copco Porter pair of Gary Bertholdt/Henry Kirstein were relegated by race officials to third. That decision was overturned by the stewards of the meeting who reinstated Bertholdt and Kirstein, and led to a not unexpected appeal by the Motorite outfit.
Whatever the outcome of the Motorsport SA appeal court hearing, it won’t affect the outcome of the championship. It does, however, set up a situation where Bertholdt and Kirstein will be more than keen to upstage the Motorite BAT crews of Cox/Ter Stege, Evan Hutchinson/Achim Bergmann and Brandon Harcus/Marcelle Trethewey.
All four crews have won this season, and all four have the pace and aggression to dominate at Carnival City. It is an intriguing situation but there are other players who enter the equation.
Former champion Shameer Variawa and Andrew van Zyl, in the Total Porter, went well in Mpumalanga as did Rob and Gareth Wark sharing the singleseater Superpave BAT. Their chances cannot be written off and Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis, in the Jimco, would look to be good outside bets.
Outgoing champions Terence Marsh and Mike Whitehouse, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, would like to go out with a bang after recent disappointments, and Lesotho crew John Moore and Ashley Thorn (Free Spirit Chev) have also shown plenty of pace. Clint Gibson/Mike Brown, in the Absolute BAT, also have the potential to upset an applecart or two while Nardus Alberts/Collin Hunter are due a win in the Wrapsa BAT.
Where pride and championships are concerned anything could happen. With this in mind the scene is set for a memorable event.
Matters in Class B look like developing into a dogfight where any one of four crews could win the championship. Veteran Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen, in the Century Property Developments BAT, start off with what could be a decisive 11 point advantage over Jan and Hendrik Kraaij in the Keymax BAT.
Only five points separate the Keymax pair, Johan and Etienne Bezuidenhout in the Adenco BAT and Swaziland crew John Thompson and Clinton McNamara in the Zarco. Corbett and Goosen have emerged as the form team over the last couple of events but some late entries could muddy the waters.
Former champions Marcus Taylor and Mar de Chalain (JRE) and the van Graan brothers Pierre and Rudi, in the Technochair Zarco, have to be looked on as potential winners. The Bosal entries of Giel Nel/Johan Smalberger and Marius van Vuuren/Johan Coetzee also add to the mix and anything can, and probably will, happen at Carnival City.
The situation in Class S revolves mainly around the driver’s championship where reigning champion Richard Schilling, in the Plastotech Aceco, trails Nic Goslar (Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) by nine points. Schilling’s co-driver, Chris Davies, is out of the woods in the navigator’s stakes, but behind him only four points separate Richard Carolin, paired with Goslar, Craig Doubtfire (Archie Rutherford/Nashua Mobile Raceco) and Peter van Vuuren (Gary Gillingham/Shell Raceco).
For the experienced Schilling it is another test of character in a long and successful career. An interesting tactical battle is likely to emerge and the battle between Schilling/Davies and Goslar/Carolin is going to be one of the more interesting cameo performances.