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Challenging start for SA X-Country champs

2015-03-16 13:17

SPEED AND CLEVER DRIVING: Reigning champions Toyota will want to show the rest of the pack how it's done. Image: Toyota.


Competitors will be thrown in at the deep end with a challenging new route for the RFS Endurance R, the opening round of 2015's South African cross-country championship in Harrismith over March 27/28.

The series has a fresh look about it with the calendar reduced from eight to six events involving sprint, endurance and marathon formats. The coming event is one of two such; the rest of the calendar will be three sprint races and a marathon.


The season opener will include a round of the Dakar Challenge and be run over a total of 698km made up of a 196km qualifying race to determine grid positions and two laps of 251km with a compulsory 20-minute halt at the end of the first loop.

All but 50km of this year’s route will be new to competitors and based in Harrismith in the Free State for only the second time.

Route director Adri Roets said: "The new format for this year’s race posed a challenge but we've had tremendous co-operation from Harrismith-based cross-country stalwart Kobus van Tonder and the local authorities, landowners and farmers.

"Most of the route is in a beautiful and hilly region of the Free State. It’s very scenic with plenty of long grass at this time of the year - I think competitors will relish a route that is technical and challenging.”

Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be at the La La Nathi resort just outside Harrismith. The qualifying race will take crews from the start towards Waltons, using sections of 2014's route, before crossing a mountain ridge on the way back towards Harrismith.


The route will then follows the old QwaQwa road towards the Sterkfontein Dam which crews will skirt on the QwaQwa road towards Bethlehem before heading back to La La Nathi.

The opening sections of the race loops are a carbon copy of the qualifying route before veering around the Sterkfontein Dam in a clockwise direction towards Qwa Qwa. Crews then join sections of the qualifying route on the way back to the start/finish.

As is the norm on Donaldson cross country championship events the route is spectator friendly. There are numerous viewing points on good quality roads within easy access of race headquarters.

Public access to race headquarters and viewing points along the route is free. 

Qualifying is on March 27 and will start at 10:30 and racing from 07:30 the following day

STRANGE SIGHT:  Evan Hutchison showed his (heavy) mettle in last year's RFS 450. Image: Keino Davie

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