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Sugarbelt 400 back at Eston

2013-04-29 08:53

TWO DOWN, LOTS TO GO... Ford Racing won the first two races of the 2013 season with local crew Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable and former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst. Image: Motorpress

The SA Cross-Country championship will return to Eston, near Pietermaritzburg, for the first time in three years with the Toyota Sugarbelt 400 over May 17/18.

The event was run in the Dundee area in 2011 and moved to Richmond in 2012.

The event will be Round 3 three of the National championship and has special significance for Pietermaritzburg as well as the Toyota and Ford Racing teams. Pietermaritzburg, one of the world's oldest Victorian cities, this year celebrates its 175th birthday and is home base for the championship-topping Ford team while also being a driver and nine-iron away from Toyota's Prospecton plant.

FAMILIAR FORMAT

The event will again be run by the Natal Off-Road Motor Club which has its 30th anniversary this year.

Ford Racing won the first two races of the 2013 season with local crew Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable and former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst. The Toyota squad will be desperate for a win.

The Toyota Dealer Sugarbelt 400, based at the Beaumont Eston Farmers' Club, has always been regarded as one of the more difficult races on the cross-country calendar; 2013 will be no different . The race will also follow a familiar format - two loops of a figure-8 route with a west loop and an east loop.

The west loop is about 75km, the east one 90km. After the first two loops there will be a compulsory 15-minute halt at the service park at the Farmers' club.

The Friday prologue will be run over about 60km of the west loop. Regional and Cricket Class competitors will complete the prologue but only one loop of the race.

FAMILIAR FORMAT

The first section of both loops is common for about eight kilometres. The west loop consists of fairly tight sugar-cane sections before opening up and then taking crews through trees and more cane before the service point.

The east loop is cane for most of the route with a section on the old sugar-cane narrow-gauge railway line thrown in.

As always, the event will be spectator-friendly with nearly all the viewing points within 15km the club; 13 road crossings, each of them a spectator point, are included with a further seven points where the route follows public roads.

Public access to race headquarters, the service point and spectator areas is free. Spectator guides with GPS co-ordinates and time and travel information will be available from Toyota dealers and race HQ. 

The prologue will start at 12:30pm on Friday May 17 and the race at 8.30am on Saturday May 18.
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