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document : Motorite Racing’s Hutchison and Stassen 4th in Sun City 400


Motorite Racing’s Hutchison and Stassen 4th in Sun City 400
information supplied by: Motorite Racing Team - Offroad 30 July 2012

334506 Motorite Racing’s Hutchison and Stassen 4th in Sun City 400

Motorite Racing’s Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (class A BAT Venom V8) survived a hot, dusty and tough Sun City 400, round five of the Absa Off Road Car Championship, on Saturday to complete the 400 kilometre race in fourth place overall in the special vehicle category. It was a disappointing result for the pair, who led the special vehicle championship going into the event and started the weekend with a good win in Friday’s 56 kilometre Donaldson prologue. However, they paid the price for taking a wrong turn early in Saturday’s race while leading and lost a crippling nine minutes to their rivals.

Thick dust in the dry Pilanesberg area made overtaking difficult and dangerous, but Hutchison made up places to reach the compulsory halfway service stop at Sun City in sixth place, 9 min 30 sec behind the leaders and eventual winners, Lance Trethewey and Carl Wichmann in a BAT Spec 2. It was no easier in the second half of the race with Hutchison having to contend with the dust of four special vehicles and eight production vehicles that separated him from the leaders.

The gap to the winners at the finish was 10 min 16 sec and the Motorite Racing pair missed out on a podium place by 1 min 8 sec. With three rounds of the championship remaining, they are now second in the points, just three behind Van Staden and Lawrenson and 21 ahead of third-placed Hermann and son Wichard Sullwald (Porter).

“There was an instruction that caught out a few of us and unfortunately, by the time we realised our mistake, we had gone the wrong way for about four minutes,” explained Stassen. “The mistake effectively ruled out any chance we had of winning and, in fact, has lost us the championship lead. Evan drove like a champion to try and make up the lost time and the BAT Venom never missed a beat. It’s frustrating to lose out like this, especially when we had such a great opportunity to extend our championship lead this weekend.”

Team-mates Nick and son Ryan Harper (Motorite Revo V6) were less fortunate. After finishing a fine third in the prologue, they lost four-wheel drive 69 kilometres into the opening 159 kilometre loop around the Pilanesberg. Soon after, travelling at reduced speed, they were hit by another special vehicle which damaged a trailing arm and ripped off a spare wheel. They arrived at the halfway service stop at Sun City in ninth place, 15 minutes behind the leading BAT of Trethewey and Wichmann.

The service crew restored the four-wheel drive and repaired the trailing arm, but it subsequently broke halfway through the final 159 kilometre loop. It was the Harpers’ first non-finish of the season and dropped them from sixth to seventh in the championship.

“We had a good prologue on Friday and were confident of a good result on Saturday,” said Nick Harper. “The race conditions were very challenging, with thick dust making it difficult to pass safely and avoid puncturing a tyre on the rocks off the track.

“We took over second place from Evan and Danie within the first 16 kilometres and were maintaining a one-minute gap to the leaders until we lost drive to the front wheels. It was obviously disappointing to have to withdraw from the race after our good start on Friday and we’ll have to wait five weeks before the next round to try and improve our championship position.”

Both Motorite Racing specials carried a message of support for rhino conservation throughout the weekend to draw attention to the plight of South Africa’s rhino, which are being poached at an alarming rate, and to help raise much-needed funds for their rescue.

The logo of Rhino Force (www.rhinoforce.co.za), a fund-raising organisation dedicated to the preservation of rhinos, attracted a lot of attention among the off road racing fraternity and the public, as did the team’s hand-made half-size wire rhino prominently displayed alongside the team’s two cars at the start/finish at Sun City.

Motorite Racing is the motor sport division of Motorite Insurance Administrators, the largest independent mechanical breakdown insurance and full maintenance plan service provider and administrator in South Africa.

Ends

Issued on behalf of Motorite Insurance Administrators by Peter Burroughes Communications, telephone 082 899 0101, e-mail bowtie@iafrica.com.

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