The final event of the Absa Off Road Championship lived up to its reputation as a rainmaker, with heavy intermittent rain throughout the weekend turning the route into a quagmire. It was a case of survival of the fittest with the more than difficult conditions taking a heavy toll.
Hutchison and Bergmann outlasted the rest of the field to grind out their second win of the season and round out a highly successful championship for the Motorite BAT squad. Alfie Cox and Hennie Ter Steege won the overall and Class A championships and, along with Brandon Harcus, also scored two wins during the season.
Cox and Ter Stege were among today’s casualties, along with a string of other high profile teams, while Harcus and Marcelle Trethewey had an adventurous day. The pair rolled the car, broke a CV joint and picked up 90 minutes in penalties for various transgressions – all of which dropped them well down the final pecking order with the pair eventually classified the last Special Vehicle to finish.
Among those to fall by the wayside were former SA champion Shameer Variawa and Andrew van Zyl (Total Porter) who buried the car in a mudhole, Gary Bertholdt and Henry Kirstein (Atlas Copco Porter) with alternator problems and Rob and Gareth Wark (Superpave BAT). For crews in the open cockpit Special Vehicles the conditions were particularly unpleasant with rain and mud making for poor visibility.
In the end it was outgoing SA champions Terence Marsh and Mike Whitehouse, in the Nashua Mobile BAT, who came in second. It was their best performance of the season, with the pair 20 minutes behind Hutchison and Bergmann.
Third overall and in Class A in what was also their best performance of the season, were Lesotho crew John Moore and Ashley Thorn in the Free Spirit Chev. They were followed home by Gerhard and Kobie du Plessis, in a Jimco, and Class B winners Jan and Hendrik Kraaij in the Keymax BAT, who rounded out the top five.
For the Kraaij’s, however, victory was not enough to give them the Class B title in their first season of off road racing. Seventh overall and second in Class B was enough, in terms of unofficial scoring, to give veteran Ernest Corbett and Warwick Goosen, in the Century Property Developments BAT, the championship by a five point margin.
Nashua Mobile Racing crew Archie Rutherford and Craig Doubtfire were first home in Class S where Nic Goslar (Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco) wrapped up the drivers championship – despite withdrawing from the race after the first of the two 180 kilometre loops. Goslar was suffering from blurred vision from all the mud on the route, and handed over the car to co-driver Richard Carolin for the final loop.
It meant that Goslar did not score points but closest rival, reigning champion Richard Schilling (Plastotech Aceco), retired with a blown motor. Schilling’s co-driver, Chris Davies, had the navigator’s championship in the bag prior to this weekend, and Carolin’s brave effort was not enough to move him ahead of Doubtfire.