Speedglas Welding Helmets BMW rally teammates Richard Leeke and Danie Stassen put in a sterling effort in the Atlas Copco 400, the fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, which ended in Bronkhorstspruit on 4 August.
The crew was placed seventh place in Class T after enduring technical issues. This was not a reflection of their pace, according to Roadworx communication, but the crew has taken heart from their race time on the first loop, which shows they were right up with the very best in terms of outright speed.
Unfortunately, an airlock in the cooling system – an intermittent problem which has cost them time in previous events – forced them to leave the service point late.
This meant they were delayed by the best part of half-an-hour (which incurred a time penalty equal to how much later than scheduled they restarted), which lead to a further “issue” later on.
Despite starting well down the order and being forced to overtake numerous vehicles, the pair pulled out all the stops to record a time of two hours, five minutes and 47 seconds for the first 170km loop, a time which meant they were the fastest Class T car out there, and sixth quickest overall! That was until the penalty incurred (26 minutes and 35 seconds) as a result of the airlock was taken into account …
Nevertheless, the team was justified in feeling bullish as the repeat loop got away and while their likelihood of a good overall and class result had gone out the window, it was an opportunity to shine. But alas, the combination of dust and slower competitors ultimately spoilt their afternoon and they spent two-thirds of the stage distance sitting in Terence Marsh’s dust.
“It really is a shame when fellow competitors don’t let another car by, even when it is obviously faster,” lamented Richard Leeke Senior, who manages the Speedglas team. “On the first loop, Richard and Danie were six minutes to the good on Marsh and celebrity navigator Joey Evans – despite them running in the FIA class.”
Richard Jnr echoed these sentiments: “It was extremely frustrating and made things extremely dangerous. At one stage, we were within a few seconds of them, but the closer we got, the less we could see. It was crazy and eventually, we were forced to back off and wait it out!”
Leeke and Stassen will be in action again in two months when they line up for the start of the Harrismith 400.
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