Pre- sea­son mu­si­cal chairs

Teams pre­pare for Don­ald­son Cross Coun­try Mo­tor Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship opener at Vry­burg

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - CHARMAINE FOR­TUNE

THERE has been plenty of ac­tiv­ity in the an­nual game of mu­si­cal chairs as teams pre­pare for the open­ing round of the Don­ald­son Cross Coun­try Mo­tor Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship.

The sea­son opens with the RFS En­durance Race in Vry­burg in the North West prov­ince on April 1 and 2 and new­com­ers to the se­ries, re­turn­ing cham­pi­ons, a grow­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­ence and a new Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle class have all kept the pre- sea­son pot boil­ing. The week­end also pro­vides a spec­tac­u­lar start to the sea­son with the RFS En­dur- ance to run in con­junc­tion with round two of the North­ern Re­gions Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onship, and round one of the South African Cross Coun­try Mo­tor­cy­cle and Quad Cham­pi­onship.

Kim­ber­ley based brothers Otto and Ron­nie Graven, well known in South African drift rac­ing cir­cles, will be high pro­file new­com­ers and join the Class S brigade in the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory. For­mer SA drift cham­pion Otto will be out in the ex Pi­eter Ruthven Toy­ota Hilux with Ron­nie cam­paign­ing the ex Mar­ius and Jolinda Fourie Toy­ota Hilux. For their part the Cris­tiana based Fouries will re­turn to ac­tion in the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory. Af­ter lim­ited ap­pear­ances last sea­son, the hus­band and wife com­bi­na­tion re­turn to the Class A fold in the PHB BAT Spec 4.

They will be joined by for­mer South African cham­pi­ons Quintin and Kal­lie Sull­wald who sat out last sea­son. The father/ son team will link up with reign­ing South African cham­pi­ons Evan Hutchi­son and Danie Stassen at Mo­torite Rac­ing.

The Sull­walds, busi­ness­men from Pha­l­aborwa, hold a unique record in the Don­ald­son Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onship. They have won na­tional ti­tles with father Kal­lie do­ing the driv­ing and Quintin the nav­i­gat­ing, and vice versa. The Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory is given a fur­ther boost with Aus­tralian Dave McShane com­mit­ting to a full sea­son with the newly formed Fox Rac­ing team. McShane, a for­mer win­ner of the Aus­tralasian Sa­fari, will be joined in the car by Le­an­der Pien­aar, who fin­ished third in the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship in the now de­funct Side x Side cham­pi­onship in 2014.

McShane is based in Western Aus­tralia and tested South African wa­ters with an ap­pear­ance on the At­las Copco Gold 450, the fi­nal event of last year’s Don­ald­son se­ries. The Aus­tralian adds to a grow­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­ence in the Don­ald­son se­ries with Brazil­ian brothers, Cris­tian and Mar­cos Baum­gart, set to com­pete in Vry­burg in the FIA Class in the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory.

The new FIA Class will run along­side the cur­rent CLASS T and Class S ve­hi­cles, and al­lows Don­ald­son Cross Coun­try teams to run cars to FIA Group T1 spec­i­fi­ca­tions. It is a move that will al­low teams to de­velop FIA Cross Coun­try Rally World Cup and Dakar Rally cars over a full sea­son, and en­cour­ages over­seas teams to com­pete in SA.

“The cur­rent favourable ex- change rate is an in­cen­tive for in­ter­na­tional teams to com­pete in South Africa,” said SANORA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Siegfried Rousseau. “With a block­buster week­end in Vry­burg to open pro­ceed­ings, all the in­di­ca­tions point to­wards a sea­son full of po­ten­tial.”

Race head­quar­ters, the start fin­ish and the des­ig­nated ser­vice park for the RFS En­durance Race will all be based at the Vry­burg Mo­tor Club on the out­skirts of the town. Pub­lic en­trance to th­ese ar­eas and des­ig­nated spec­ta­tor points along the car and mo­tor­cy­cle/ quad routes is free of charge

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