National Cross Country championship teams will be heading into the unknown when the 2014 season opens with the RFS 450 in the Free State over February 28-March 1.After being based at the Tarlton International Raceway near Krugersdorp, in the North West, for a number of seasons, the RFS event is moving to Harrismith and virgin territory will provide crews with a challenging start to the season.Race headquarters, the start/finish and the service park will all be based at the La La Nathi resort on the outskirts of Harrismith.ENJOYABLE DRIVERoute director Adri Roets said the course would take competitors in an anti-clockwise direction towards Lesotho via the Sterkfontein Dam. The route would follow the escarpment towards Montrose before doubling back alongside the N3 to race HQ.Roets said: “It is lovely cross-country terrain and competitors are going to enjoy it. As you would expect from that part of South Africa there is a little of everything but it is not going to be an easy ride. The grass is very long at this time of the year and there are a number of river crossings."More rain is expected in the region and the event could turn out to be wet.”Under the new 2014 race format introduced the race will be made up of two 175km loops with a compulsory 15 minute halt at the end of the first leg. The qualifying race to determine race grid positions has been increased to 100km and will start and finish at La La Nathi.“The route is spectator friendly with several road crossings. The spectator points are all easily accessible and provide for exciting viewing.”The RFS 450 also breaks new ground in that it will be run in conjunction with rounds of the Northern Regions and kwaZulu-Natal Cross-Country championships. Regional events have been run in conjunction with National races manhy times but this will be the first time both Regional championships simultaneously share the stage with the Donaldson championship.The qualifying race on Friday, February 28 will start at noon, the race on Saturday March 1 at 8.30am.