Three new events this year

CROSS COUN­TRY: ‘BREAK­ING INTO NEW TER­RI­TORY,’ SAYS CHAM­PI­ONSHIP SE­RIES CEO

The Citizen (KZN) - - Motorsport - Off-road cor­re­spon­dent

The Side x Side cat­e­gory has been com­bined with the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles.

The South African Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onship will, in many ways, present a fresh face when the 2020 se­ries opens in Mpumalanga at the end of this month.

New venues, rules and reg­u­la­tions will add up to an ex­cit­ing start to a new decade for the cham­pi­onship, which last year con­sis­tently at­tracted good fields.

And, with the trend likely to be un­changed, both the Pro­duc­tion Ve­hi­cle and Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cham­pi­onships should again be highly com­pet­i­tive.

Three new events will de­but on the cal­en­dar this year.

They will take place in the KwZulu-Na­tal Eas­ton and Mid-Illovo area, plus Clarens and Bothav­ille in the Free State.

SA Cross-coun­try Cham­pi­onship Se­ries (SACCS) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Archie Ruther­ford said: “We are de­lighted to see cross-coun­try rac­ing break into new ter­ri­tory.

“Last sea­son saw the in­tro­duc­tion of two new events which turned out to be great suc­cesses, and we are con­fi­dent this year’s de­but events will be equally well re­ceived.”

The sea­son will start on 28 and 29 Fe­bru­ary with the 2018 award-win­ning Mpumalanga 400 in Dull­stroom. The event will again be sup­ported by Malalane Toy­ota. On 3 and 4 April the cham­pi­onship will re­turn to the Eas­ton/Mid-Illovo area in KwaZulu-Na­tal for the his­tory-steeped Su­gar­belt 400, fol­low­ing a hia­tus of five years.

The next new event will be the Clarens 400 on 22 and 23 May, in the foothills of the ma­jes­tic Ma­luti Moun­tains.

One of the long­est-run­ning spon­sor­ships in South African mo­tor­sports will con­tinue, with the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, this year cel­e­brat­ing its 29th an­niver­sary. The race, from 26 to 28 June in Selebi Phikwe, will again be the only marathon event on the cal­en­dar.

It en­joys the un­par­al­leled sup­port of the Botswana gov­ern­ment, Botswana Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion, Selebi Phikwe Eco­nomic Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion Unit and the Selebi Phikwe Town Coun­cil.

In the lat­ter half of the sea­son the ac­tion moves to Gaut­eng for the Bronkhorst­spruit 400 on 14 and 15 Au­gust.

The next new event sees crews head­ing for Bothav­ille in the Free State and the Nampo 400 on 18 and 19 Septem­ber.

The fi­nal event on the 2020 cal­en­dar will see a re­turn to Parys on the banks of the Vaal River on 23 and 24 Oc­to­ber.

In an­other new de­vel­op­ment, SACCS has em­ployed the ser­vices of mul­ti­ple South African cham­pion Evan Hutchi­son as route di­rec­tor.

Hutchi­son comes with a wealth of mo­tor­sports knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence which spans many years and in­cludes mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing, ral­ly­ing and cross coun­try.

This year will also see changes to the Toy­ota 1000 Desert Race’s points-scor­ing for­mat.

In a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment, SACCS has de­cided to com­bine the Side x Side cat­e­gory with the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory.

The move is aimed at cre­at­ing a sta­ble plat­form for the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Cham­pi­onship and pro­vid­ing growth through the SSV in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised plat­form of mo­tor­sports.

Class A will cater for two-wheel drive ve­hi­cles with stan­dard en­gines not ex­ceed­ing 6 300cc, with no sus­pen­sion or chas­sis re­stric­tions.

Class P will cater for two-wheel drive ve­hi­cles with nor­mally aspi­rated six cylin­der petrol en­gines no larger than four litres, with no sus­pen­sion or chas­sis re­stric­tions.

Class G will cater for the four­wheel drive recre­ational ve­hi­cles with stan­dard orig­i­nal man­u­fac­tur­ers’ nor­mally aspi­rated or turbo petrol or diesel en­gines.

“The Side x Side cat­e­gory adds an­other string to our bow,” said Ruther­ford. “The cham­pi­onship ran as a stand-alone in 2019 and proved pop­u­lar with com­peti­tors and spec­ta­tors alike.”

Cross coun­try is break­ing into new ter­ri­tory

Pic­tures: Na­dia Jor­daan.

TO START WITH. The Mpumalanga 400 race in Dull­stroom will kick off this year’s South African Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onship, with sup­port from Malalane Toy­ota.

JOIN­ING FORCES. The Side x Side cat­e­gory will race as a fully fledged class of the Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Cham­pi­onship this sea­son.

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