Regular team Evan Hutchison and Trevor Ormerod had a trouble-free run in their class B Motorite BAT, a South African designed and built special powered by a 2,0-litre Nissan engine, and finished an impressive fourth overall behind three more powerful class A machines after over eight hours of hard driving and more than 400 km of rough roads and rocky tracks in the mountain kingdom.
One of the class A cars ahead of them was the Motorite Racing BAT of Brandon Harcus and Alec Salley, powered by a V6 3-litre Nissan engine, who had a very successful one-off drive and finished second overall five minutes behind the winners, the father and son team of Nick and Ryan Harper in another BAT, powered by an Audi V8 engine.
Their nearest rivals for class B honours, Rudi and Pierre van Graan in a Mazda-engined Zarco Lite, finished sixth overall, 43 minutes behind the Motorite BAT. The win, their third in five events this year, has cemented their lead in the class B championship, where they now enjoy a 16-point advantage over the Van Graan brothers and a 19-point gap to reigning class B champions Marcus Taylor and Marc de Chalain (JRE).
“Trevor and I were very motivated after our class win in the Sun City 400 last month and, as a former biker and quad racer, I was really looking forward to the challenge racing a four-wheeled vehicle in the rugged Lesotho mountains,” said Hutchison.
“We put in a lot of hard work to ensure the car was in top condition – you can’t take any chances in off road racing, least of all in an event like this one. It was really tough and the Motorite BAT came through with flying colours.
“We had no problems at all, although it was physically very demanding. There are so many twists and turns, rocks and holes in the road that you can’t relax for a minute. As you clear one obstacle you’re immediately faced with the next one.
“It was definitely the toughest race Trevor and I have done this year, so it was particularly pleasing to have beaten a strong class B field (and quite a few of the bigger class A machines) that included the reigning champions.”
Brandon Harcus, a familiar sight behind the wheel of a racing special at Absa Off Road Championship events, had delayed his return to the United States, where he recently settled, to take one last ‘shot’ at conquering Lesotho’s Maluti mountains.
He returned to South Africa unexpectedly after his father, Arthur, who won the Roof of Africa Rally in 1979 in a single-seater special, lost his life in a highjacking in Johannesburg in July.
“This was a special one-off race for me,” said Harcus, who competed in the Roof of Africa Rally as well as last year’s Lesotho Sun 400. “It was an emotional one, too, as I wanted to win the race not only for myself but for my late father.
“Alec and I did our very best, so we’re not too disappointed to have come in second. It was a great event, tough and demanding as a Roof should be. I’m very proud to have completed what is without a doubt the toughest off road race in southern Africa in a vehicle I conceived and designed. In fact, there were three BATs in the top four and four in the top seven.
“It was also very appropriate that I carried the colours of Motorite. Their MD, Justen Cooper, was a good friend of my father and he didn’t hesitate to back my entry this one last time. I am very grateful to Justen for that.”