Hot Racing at SABAT Challenge

Kyalami, 2pm, 25 November 2006. It’s the final Wesbank Super Series championship race day of the season. The sweltering heat at the Midrand racing circuit proves tough on the 16 power chair racers lined up on the starting grid. They all wear scarlet red SABAT shirts and helmets, and are swigging bottled water to fight the extreme heat. (Picture: Winner Jannie Louw gets his prize from SABAT’s Murray Long.

It’s the fourth annual SABAT Electric Wheelchair Challenge, a race initiated by QASA Director Ari Seirlis and SABAT Managing Director Murray Long. Some competitors travel from other provinces to take part. The racers are treated to a fun-filled day with loads of food, drinks and prizes. SABAT has a long and distinguished history in South African motor racing, both as a participant and sponsor. Every year, SABAT provides two free batteries to those QASA members in power chairs.

With a wave, a marshal sets the racers off along the 1km track. There’s no roar of engines or screech of tyres, but the adrenalin flows nonetheless. Drivers jostle for position, there’s some wheel banging but soon the field spreads out and only three racers fighting for the lead. Within minutes the chequered flag waves the winner over the line to cheers from the grandstands.

After the race, all the drivers are ferried back to the SABAT boma for lunch and a few well-deserved beers, followed by the prize-giving.

1st - Jannie Louw
2nd - Shawn Arde
3rd - Piet de Wit

1st Lady - Vernhette Richards




Racers and chairs are rolled out of the van. Racers wait on the grid for the start.



Jannie Louw crosses the line in first place. Shawn Arde is comfortably in second place.



Even the backmarkers fight to the line. Ladies Race winner Vernhette Richards (left) shares a frosty with her pal Debbie Barnard.


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