McShane and Coetzee win Special Vehicle category on Atlas Copco 450
Glenharvie, Saturday – There was only half a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Evan Hutchison and the Motorite team at the finish of the Atlas Copco Gold 450, the final round of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, which ended at the Kloof Country Club here today.
In a close finish the race was won by Dave McShane and South African rally champion Elvéne Coetzee, who navigated for the Australian on the final three events of the season, in a Fox Racing Porter. The result saw McShane become the first overseas competitor to win a Donaldson series national title when he clinched the Class A drivers’ title.
Second place for reigning champions Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Viper) in Motorite Racing’s final race saw compensation for Hutchison when he was crowned the Special Vehicle category overall drivers’ champion. Stassen had already clinched both the overall and Class A navigators’ championship with Motorite Racing, the most successful privateer team in the history of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, now disbanding.
“It was a very emotional event and it is a pity we only got the job half done,” said a disappointed Hutchison. “That’s motor racing and congratulations to Fox Racing on the win and to Dave for winning the Class A championship.”
Hutchison and Stassen appeared to be sitting pretty when they won the 102 kilometre qualifying race on Friday and put nearly two and a half minutes between them and McShane and Coetzee. But a blistering performance on the first of two 150 kilometre loops that made up the race, saw McShane and Coetzee into a narrow lead at the compulsory 20 minute service halt.
Hutchison and Stassen were 14 seconds quicker on the final lap, but it was not enough. McShane and Coetzee held their nerve on the final lap and did enough to win by just 48 seconds.
There were celebrations in the Makenete camp when Keith Makenete and Taelo Mochebelele, in a BAT, scored their second podium finish of the season. A cautious first lap paid off for the pair who were comfortably ahead of Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse (Aceco), who started the day in third place, at the finish.
The top five was completed by Coetzee Labuscagne and son-in-law Jaco Jonk (4×4 Mega World Porter) who was filling in for Labuscagne’s daughter, Sandra, who is competing in a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup. The pair finished second in the qualifying race, but it was not a happy day for the crew who were hampered by handling problems and overheating.
Labuscagne/Jonk were followed by Werner Kennedy and Thinus Venter (Aceco) who were the first of the Class P cars. It was their class second win of the season with the pair only four seconds ahead of Lourens/Carien Booysen in a BAT.
The top 10 were completed by Class P champions John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum), John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Hellcat) and Grant Watkins and Paul Mare in a Zarco. Thomson/Zermatten and Telford/Ntsekhe reported dramas which included falling into a water hole for the former, and being stranded on a sandbank for the latter.