Potential title contenders will have high expectations when the Northern Regions cross-country championship gets under way in Lichtenburg, North West, on February 8, 2014.Established competitors will find an assortment of newcomers in both the Special and Production Vehicle championships. Everyone will be looking to make an early impression in what is likely to develop into a highly competitive season throughout the various classes.NEW CARS, NEW ENTRIESA number of national competitors will take the opportunity to get in some pre-season testing. Among them will be Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson who will give their new Nissan Navara, in which they hope to compete in 2015’s Dakar Rally, its first public outing. Other national cars could include the BMW X3s of Willem Vos, Richard Fuller and entries led by North West province local Neil Meyer.New SCC Lichtenburg chairman Miggie van der Linde said 80% of the route was completely new. Linde said the route had a little bit of everything with predicted rain next week it could add to the fun.Class B will be led by the likes of Atlas Copco Gold winner Francois Smith and wily old veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei, who is the reigning champion. They will come under attack from Kobus Fourie, Tinus le Roux/Gustav Pienaar, Johan Steyn/Gerhard Roos and Mitchell Meyer and father Mike. Also out in an Orca will be the husband and wife combination of Ferdie and Janine van der Merwe.ONGOING BATTLEReigning Class P champions, veteran Giel Nel and Paul Slabbert will need to up their game if they are to win back to back titles. Main challengers look likely to be Rikus Prinsloo/Lood Combrink and the father/son combination of Tony and Michael Gouveia. Johan and Jeremy Mitchell will also be looking for a solid start to the season. Newcomers to Class P are Roelof and Marlise du Plessis. Also in the mix will be Clive and Shawn Sutherland, Gerhard van der Linde and new co-driver Janco Rossouw, Andre Fourie and Leon Schutte and brothers Dawid and Maarten van Jaarsveld. On paper Class P looks to be the most competitive class in the Northern Regions Championship. The Lichtenburg event will provide some indication of what lies ahead.Among the Production Vehicles, Dana Vos and Hendrik de Kock (Toyota Hilux) will start as firm favourites in Class D. Main opposition will be in the form of Paul Scheepers and Johan van Vuuren in a Nissan Hardbody.Class E will see a rekindling of the rivalry between Rob Reid and Bodo Schwegler - 2013 Production and Class championship winners in the Mitsubishi Pajero - and Wessel and Berne Kriel in a Ford Ranger. They will be chased by the Toyota Hilux entries of Rudolph du Toit/Benjamin Sutherland and Theuns du Toit and Arnold Nortje, while Dewald Hattingh and Doep du Plessis will be hoping for a better season.In Class Z for club competitors Gert Steyn and Tanya Burger (Toyota Hilux) will have their eyes on back to back titles, but Willie Welman and new co-driver Marius Fourie in the Ford Bantam, could make life difficult for them. Jaco du Plessis and Louis Bester (Toyota Land Cruiser) will also be looking for a bright start, with Alfred and Tommy van Vuuren out in a Ford F250 that has not been raced for several years.Race headquarters will be at the Lichtenburg race circuit, and the qualifying race to determine grid positions will start at 9am on Saturday, February 8 and the race at 12pm. There are a number of spectator points along the route and entry to these areas is free of charge.