Drivers and co-drivers who are leading Special Vehicle championships are in for a few sleepless nights between now and the fifth and penultimate round of the South African Cross Country Championship (SACCS), the Sun City 400, in the Pilanesberg on September 15 and 16.
So tight are the championship positions there is every possibility of one or more of the title issues going all the way to the wire. Just 13 points separate three drivers – Evan Hutchison (King Price Extreme BAT Viper), Marius Fourie (BAT) and Stefan van Pletzen (Live Lesotho Chenowth) – in the hunt for the overall title and in Class A the gap is narrowed to10 points.
Of the co-drivers in line for the overall title Danie Stassen (113) has a slight advantage over Jolinda Fourie (89) and Jaco Pieterse (84) who have both missed an event. Stassen maintains his lead in Class A but here there is only one point between Fourie and Pieterse.
And then there is the situation in Class P. Werner Kennedy/Thinus Venter (Live Lesotho Aceco) and John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Hellcat) both have 72 points and Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey (Zarco Magnum) are a point behind.
In the overall and Class A standings the father/daughter combination of Coetzee and Sandra Labuscagne are not yet completely out of the picture. But it would need something spectacular from the 4×4 Mega World Porter crew if they were to overhaul and catch the crews in the box seats.
However, of the top four crews the Labuscagnes are the only team with a 100 percent finish record this season. After a shaky start three podium finishes in a row have shot them up the leader board.
Former Class P champions John Thomson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco), who will race under the Calcamite banner at Sun City, have not set the world alight since moving to Class A, but remain a threat. The same applies to Naeem Moosajee and Rayhaan Bodhanya in the Tyre Rack Stryker.
Keith Makenete/Ferdie Pieterse (BAT) have a wealth of experience while rookie Talha Moosajee is paired this time out with Zaheer Bodhanya in the Team TyreRack Jimco. Rally driver Visser du Plessis is again paired with rally champion Elvéne Coetzee, with the pair begging for a decent result in the King Price Extreme Porter which has been plagued by bad luck this season.
The Class P battle will be an intriguing one. Only Kennedy/Venter have not won this season but, like Goslar/Massey, who won the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, they have a 100 percent finish record.
Telford and Ntsekhe have won three times but a lone “did not finish” in the second heat of the Botswana race cost them dear, with Andrew Makenete and Taelo Mochebelele (Zarco) providing extra opposition this time out. It is a little like the “Shoot Out at the OK Corral” with consequences for the casualties.
Race headquarters and the designated service park will be located within the Sun City complex. After a ceremonial start at race headquarters competitors will travel to the village of Tweelaagte, 30 kilometres to the west of race headquarters.
Public entry to race headquarters, the designated service park and spectator points along the route are free of charge. Catering, refreshments and spectator guides will also be available at race headquarters.
The qualifying event to determine grid positions will be held on Friday, September 15 and the race the following day. The qualifying race will start at 13:30 and the main event, at 07:30.
The main race will be run over two loops with competitors flagged away at dust gap intervals of two minutes. There will be a compulsory 20 minute service halt at the end of loop one with the second loop starting at 12:00.
As an added bonus there will be a round of the Northern Regions championship making it a bumper weekend for cross country enthusiasts. The regional competitors will complete one loop of the route and will be flagged away after the national entries.