Driving their awesome V8-engined BAT Spec 3, they will contest class A and overall honours together with team-mates Brandon Harcus and Richard Leeke (both former co-driver national champions) in a Motorite Racing BAT Spec 2. Leeke has won the Desert Race as a co-driver eight times, including last year with Duncan Vos in a works Nissan Navara.
Flying the distinctive black and silver livery of Motorite Racing in the Super Production class of the production vehicle category will be the legendary Alfie Cox and co-driver Hennie ter Stege in a Ford Ranger. Cox has the unique distinction of having won national off road championships in the motorcycle, special and production vehicle categories. Ter Stege partnered Cox to the special vehicle championship with Motorite Racing in 2006.
The Desert Race is the longest – and, arguably – the toughest of the eight races that make up the Absa Off Road Championship. After four rounds, Hutchison and Bergmann find themselves in an unfamiliar seventh place in the championship, 29 points behind current leaders Karl-Heinz and Quintin Sullwald (Zarco). Non-finishes in the first two events are to blame and a fighting second in the most recent Nissan Sugarbelt 400 in KwaZulu Natal in May resurrected their title defence.
“In last year’s Desert Race, Achim and I hard to work really hard for fourth place in the special vehicle category and it moved us up to second place in the championship,” said Hutchison. “This year we need to do a lot better if we want to successfully defend our championship. We were encouraged by our performance in KZN last month and we’ll be looking to go one better this weekend.”
Harcus and Leeke have also been hampered by non-finishes in the first two off road races and switched from a Spec 3 to a Spec 2 BAT for the last two events. This was to accommodate Hutchison and Bergmann, who took over the Harcus/Leeke Spec 3 after their’s burnt out following a crash on the season-opening Nissan Dealer 400 in the Western Cape.
Cox is eighth in both the overall production and SP class championships after a difficult opening three rounds in the ex-factory Ford, 28 points behind former Nissan team-mate Duncan Vos. Ter Stege is seventh in both championships in the co-driver category. “This is definitely not where Hennie and I want to be,” said Cox. “We’ve found the going tough in the top Super Production class; the competition is very tight and the factory bakkies (from Nissan, Ford and Toyota) are very fast. We’ve been struggling a bit to get the best out of our ex-factory Ford, but we’re getting there and we certainly haven’t given up yet.”
Cox has won the Desert Race on two wheels on numerous occasions, as well as on four wheels, most recently with Ralph Pitchford in 2005 in a works Nissan Navara. He and Ter Stege were second in Botswana last year in the Motorite BAT Spec 3 and the irrepressible KZN motorcycle dealer would like nothing better than to go one better in the Ford.
“The Desert Race is always a tough test and a great adventure. You have to pace yourself over the first two days and be there on the last day to be in contention,” added Hutchison. “We’ve prepared well, as usual, and we’ve managed to get in some useful testing. We have assembled a very experienced team and we hope to put all this talent to good use.”
Motorite Racing is the motor sport division of Motorite Insurance Administrators, the largest independent mechanical breakdown insurance and full maintenance plan service provider and administrator in South Africa.