Hutchinson & Stassen complete Toyota 1000 Desert Special Vehicle domination a year on
Evan Hutchinson and Danie Stassen and the Motorite Racing BAT Venom dominated the Special Vehicles category of the weekend’s Toyota 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race to not only take back the overall Donaldson SA Cross Country Championship lead, but also to exorcise the ghosts of last year’s race when they similarly dominated only to retire two kilometres from the finish when their car caught fire.
There was no such luck this time as the Motorite duo took second in Friday’s qualifying prologue and moved into a race lead early Saturday morning when Evan took made best of opportunity to overtake. Early Specials class leaders Colin Matthews and Rodney Burke in the Century CR3 yielded to allow a faster Production vehicle to pass, but Hutchinson realised the opportunity, closed right up on the Ford’s back bumper and followed the it through to move into a race lead he would not relinquish until the finish in Jwaneng on Sunday afternoon.
Hutchinson and Stassen ended five minutes and nine seconds ahead of their closest challengers, Mark Corbett and Juan Mohr (Century CR5), who were a further minute clear of the Motorite duo’s fierce championship rivals Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt in another BAT.
“It was hectic out there with plenty of dust,” Hutchison explained. “We had a close shave with Johan and Werner Horn in the dust at a road crossing, but apart from that we had a good run.”
The race was not without service when the team had to replace bodywork damaged against desert thorn trees, but it was otherwise plain sailing .”Our biggest issue was contending with that bitter memory from last year — the closer it got the more we just wanted to finish,” Stassen explained. “But winning today was like winning two years in one knowing that we had just as good a run as we did last year, but this time we went all the way!”
“That champagne was twice as sweet,” Hutchinson concluded. “It has not been the kindest of races to us through the years, but this is our second Desert Race win and we take it with both hands. “Now we can focus on maintaining our championship lead as the season progresses — it’s very tight and it promises to be one of the title races tightest title races ever – bring it on!
The next round of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship is the Malelane 450 in Mpumalanga 7-8 August