A second win this season for the husband and wife team of Marius and Jolinda Fourie on the Sun City 400 today, round five of this South African Cross Country Championships (SACCS), made sure the Special Vehicle overall and Class A championships will go to the final event of the year.
The Class P championship will also go all the way to the wire. With Werner Kennedy/Thinus Venter (Live Lesotho Aceco) dropping out of the race for the title, John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Hellcat) and Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) will do battle.
For the Fourie combination, in the PHB BAT, the win could not have come at a more opportune time. With reigning champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (King Price Extreme BAT Viper) poised to close out the overall and Class A championships, the Fouries struck in the nick of time to force an exhilarating finale to the season.
Among the drivers Hutchison will take a slender two point lead into the final event, while Stassen has a little breathing space in the co-driver championship. Ms Fourie missed the Harrismith 400 and Stassen leads her by 17 points in the co-driver championship.
Gearbox problems slowed the Fouries in the qualifying race to determine grid positions. With the problem sorted out overnight the Fouries built up a lead of around seven minutes on the King Price Extreme car, but were almost caught out at the end of the race.
“The car was good in the race but we just made it on fuel,” said Fourie. “It was touch and go and we ran into a GPS problem 30 kilometres from the finish.”
Despite pushing as hard as they could Hutchison and Stassen fell short by more than two minutes. “We have seldom worked so hard and Danie and I put in a lot of effort.
“It makes for an exciting end to the season.”
Third place went to the ultra-consistent Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse in the Live Lesotho Chenowth. Van Pletzen was “happy with our position” after a “fast and rough” weekend and is now the only driver in Class A with a 100 percent finish record this season.
Keith Makenete and Ferdie Pieterse (BAT) also had reason to celebrate with their best result of the season. It was a steady drive from the pair who have found some late form with their second good result in a row.
“It was one of our better events,” said Makenete. “The route was fantastic and we are all smiles.”
A good battle developed between Telford/Ntsekhe and Goslar/Massey in Class P with only 15 seconds separating the cars at the finish. Only one point separated the two teams going into the Sun City 400, with Telford and Ntsekhe now holding a slender advantage.
Seventh place for former Class P champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum) was another disappointing return for the pair, but at last there was something for Visser du Plessis and rally champion Elvéne Coetzee to cheer about in the King Price Extreme Porter). After a miserable season for the team rally driver du Plessis, deputising for the injured Schalk Burger, and rally champion Elvéne Coetzee got into the points with eighth place.
Youngsters Talha and Taahir Moosajee (Tyre Rack Jimco) continued their learning curve. The teenagers were the last of the finishers and showed plenty of determination.
The final event of the SACCS season is the Atlas Copco 400 at the Kloof Country Club, in Westonaria, on October 27 and 28.
Final Class Classification
Image: Nadia Jordaan