All Square In Special Vehicle Title Chase

Tied scores dominate the early stages of the Special Vehicle title chases in this year’s Donaldson Cross Country Championship.  After two rounds of the series it is a case of all square in all three championships on offer.  The overall and Class A and Class P titles are deadlocked, and the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, the only marathon race on this year’s six event calendar, has suddenly taken on added significance.

A maximum of 60 points will be available from the two heats, and the desert classic is likely to play a significant role when the fat lady stops signing at the end of the season.  As matters stand former champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Viper) and Lance Trethewey/Geoff Minnitt (LT Earthworks BAT Venom) top both the overall and Class A standings with a win and a second apiece so far this season.  Hutchison/Stassen comfortably won the season opening RFS Endurance ahead of Trethewey and Minnitt, with the roles reversed at the recent Sugarbelt 450 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The two teams are locked on 53 points and have a 20 point advantage over Brett Parker and VZ Van Zyl in the Sizanani Plastics Jimco.  Tough routes and tricky conditions on both races exacted a high rate of attrition and Hutchison/Stassen, Trethewey/Minnitt and Parker/Van Zyl are the only Special Vehicle crews to have scored points in both races.  Parker scored a maiden podium position on the Sugarbelt with Van Zyl on the podium for the first time in 13 years.

Fourth place in the overall championship is held by Jimmy Zahos and Zaheer Bodhanya, in the Cobalt Stryker, with the pair scoring their first podium finish on the RFS Endurance.  That was spoiled by a non-finish on the Sugarbelt.  Fifth in the overall standings and the first Class P crew are Swazi based driver John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten, in a Zarco Magnum.
After a non-finish on the RFS Endurance the pair bounced back with fourth overall and the class win in KwaZulu-Natal.  Class A is led by Hutchison/Stassen and Trethewey/Minnitt ahead of Parker/Van Zyl and Zahos and Bodhanya.  After failing to finish on the opening event Coetzee Labuscagne and daughter Sandra, in the ChemSystems Porter, came up with an encouraging result on the Sugarbelt and complete the top five.

The only other Class A teams to have scored points are Mark Corbett/Juan Mohr (Century Racing CR5) and Sarel Van Biljon/Philip Herselman, in the Atlas Copco BAT.  Corbett/Mohr were sixth on the RFS Endurance, with van Biljon/Herselman sixth in the KZN outing and they share sixth place.  Thomson and Zermatten, the 2013 champions, share the Class P lead with KZN crew James Watson and John Thompson in a BAT.
Both have a win and a non-finish to their credit, with second placed Colin Matthews/Rodney Burke and series newcomers Bryant Meyer and Hugh Hedgcock (BAT) in the same boat each with a second and a non-finish.  The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race will be run from June 26 to 28 and will again be based in Jwaneng.