If you are going to win the trick is make it a victory that everyone will remember.And that is exactly what Marius and Jolinda Fourie did when they ended up topping the Special Vehicle overall leader board when the finishing touches were put to the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert race, third round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), here Sunday.
The Desert Race is the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar and competitors on the 26 years of Toyota sponsorship of the event will tell you that it’s the race win that is most coveted. For the husband and wife team a first national championship success made the trip to the top step of the podium even more memorable.
It was the third podium finish this season for the Fouries who came in ahead of another family orientated team in the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne, in the 4×4 Mega World Porter, with around 15 minutes the gap between the two crews. After a sluggish start to the season the Labuscagnes were also on the podium for the second time in a row, with the Desert Race ideally suited to a crew who rely on consistency rather that outright pace.
After a ropy start to the weekend with a disappointing Friday qualifying race, multiple former Class P champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten, in a Zarco Magnum, finally worked their way into third place in their second outing in the premier Class A. The Swaziland based driver and Zermatten were, however, under late pressure from Class P winners Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey in another Zarco Magnum.
Apart from the Fourie triumph the Goslar/Massey performance was arguably the highlight of the Special Vehicle category weekend. Despite having to complete the last leg of the race without any communication between driver and co-driver, Goslar and Massey gave Thomson/Zermatten a run for their money and were only 40 seconds adrift of the Class A car in the final classification.
The top five was completed by Lesotho based driver Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse (Live Lesotho Chenowth) who staged something of a comeback on the final day to maintain a challenge at the top of the overall and Class A championship leader boards. They were followed home by Werner Kennedy and Thinus Venter (Live Lesotho Aceco) and Shaun van Rooyen and Gene Rogers (VCR Racing Century CRT) who were second and third in Class P in the overall classification.
The Desert Race offered teams an attractive package with 60 points on offer. As it was South African champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (King Price Extreme BAT Viper), who led the overall and Class A championships going into the race, failed to take full advantage of the situation via multiple misfortunes on day one and two which put paid to their hopes for a profitable weekend.
John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Hellcat) led Class P going to Botswana and were in the same situation and saw valuable points go down the drain. There was also disappointment for rookie driver Schalk Burger and South African rally champion Elvéne Coetzee (King Price Extreme Porter), who ended up without a point in a race which Coetzee’s father won two years in a row.
The race ended for the pair and Kobus and Miranda Fourie (BAT) when the two cars collided in a racing incident. Burger and Coetzee rolled out of contention with the accident also putting a premature end to the race for the Fouries.
Spare a though also for Botswana crew Keith du Toit and Robbie Coetzee (Scania/White Star Racing BAT) who had high hopes of providing passionate local enthusiasts with something to cheer about. As it was the pair had to endure a weekend where nothing went right.
The next event on the calendar is the Eeram Farmers 400 near Harrismith in the Free State. The race is a new event on the calendar and will offer SACCS competitors with another fresh challenge.