The Donaldson Cross Country Championship, the national off-road racing series, drew to a close at the weekend with the running of the Atlas Copco Gold 400.
Rustenburg crew Willem Vos and Werner Weiss produced the shock of the season when they won the event in only their second outing in the series. The pair, in a BMW X3, overcame a five minute penalty for a qualifying race start infringement – to complete an unlikely win. They won ahead of newly crowned South African champions Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy in the factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux.
“It was totally unexpected, but it feels great,” said Vos. “We were a bit disappointed with the penalty, but just drove our own race and it all fell into place.”
Taylor and Murphy, who clinched the title last time out, had an adventurous day. They completed the first of the two 170 km loops that made up the race without a windscreen, and were then hampered by a puncture.
“We were also held up by one of the Special Vehicles which did not help,” said Taylor. “It was a tough weekend.”
The podium was completed by the Atlas Copco Nissan Navara pair of Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau. It was their first podium finish in the Navara after finishing second in the Nkomazi 400 in a Toyota Hilux earlier in the season.
Fourth and fifth went to outgoing South African champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie, in the second factory Team Castrol Toyota Hilux, and Deon Venter/Ian Palmer (Trysome Toyota Hilux) who produced their best result of the season. For multiple champion Vos it was a disappointing end to what is likely to have been his last race for the Toyota team.
There was further disappointment for Vos/Howie when Ford Racing pair Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst fought a rearguard action to finish sixth. It was enough to give Visser/Badenhorst second in the overall championship ahead of Vos and Howie – although the Ford crew missed out on an eighth successive podium finish.
Down in Class E there was a maiden national win for Toyota Hilux pair Johan Pretorius and Gesina Dauth. In only their fourth event the pair came home ahead of Douglas Fear and Kurt de Villiers, who were looking for a fourth win this season, in the Brytons Removals Toyota Hilux.
The Motorite BAT Viper pair of Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen limped home in fifth place to clinch back to back Special Vehicle category championships.
“What a day,” said a relieved Hutchison. “We made winning the championship difficult for ourselves. It was a tough season but we hung in there. I have never ever driven with a flat tyre in a race, but with three kilometres to go we decided to bite the bullet.”