“Mama warned me about days like this,” Motorite Racing’s Evan Hutchinson chirped after a particularly difficult Sugarbelt 450 Donaldson Cross Country qualifying Friday afternoon. “It was a day I’d rather forget!”
But true to form, by the time the fat lady had sung at the Eston Farmers Club on Saturday afternoon, Hutchinson and navigator Danie Stassen had brought their Motorite BAT Viper home a strong second to keep their Special vehicles championship campaign in top gear in spite of principal rivals Lance Trethewey and Geoff Minnitt drawing level, with the two crews now sharing a win and a second apiece, and the title lead with two rounds of the SA Donaldson Cross Country championship under the belt.
It was a trying event for Hutchinson and Stassen and the Motorite BAT Viper. “We were compromised in the time trail,” Hutchinson explained. “So we just were stuck in third — we pushed a few times to try make an impression on the guys in front of us in the new section, but it made no difference – there was just too much dust.
“I suppose we were a little lucky when Mark Corbett broke down on the second loop, but it was just not possible to attack Lance and Geoff in the dust. “They are suffering the worst drought in 20 years here in the Midlands so the track was very dry, never mind that the farmers had graded some of the roads adding to the dust so it made it impossible to pass.
The Motorite team’s race was however ruined in that time trial on Friday afternoon. “Century Racing developing a new low cost racer and they chose this race to test it,” navigator Stassen explained. “But for whatever reason, its driver Collin Mathews is seeded 1 in Special Vehicles and Evan is 2. But Colin’s seeding is based on him driving his normal Class P car and they let him run this new and much slower car in front of the field.
“So we caught him after 17km of a 96km prologue and were held up for the next 70km and because Lance Trethewey was behind us, all he needed to do to start in front of us today was to follow us home and Matthews’ team mate Mark Corbett did the same to them too so we were basically stuck in both of their dust all day Saturday.
“Suppose what goes round, comes around,” a dusty Hutchinson smiled in conclusion. “It’s a long story short we needed a bit of luck today and that came when Matthews’ teammate retired from the lead and our third became second. “We’ll take that second with both hands though — now we just need to be in top form in the desert.”
Evan is of course talking about the Toyota 1000 Botswana Desert Race 26-28 June – the jewel in the Cross Country Racing and the only marathon event in the 2015 championship.