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Litchenburg 400 has new winners following its special vehicle categroy

2019-09-16 11:46

SACCS / Charmaine Fortune

Theo Erasmus

Image: Nadia Jordaan

The Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of the 2019 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) that took place this weekend in the North-West Province, took its toll on competitors in the Special Vehicle category with more than half the field having to call it a day before reaching the chequered flag.

It was, however, a good outing for teams in the Side x Side National Championship (SxS NC) with all teams completing the full race distance while there were first-time winners in both categories.

The 55km Qualifying Race on Friday, 13 September determined the starting order for the race on Saturday and although teams in the Special and Production Vehicle categories share the starting grid, a good starting position is a good foundation before taking on the bulk of the 400 kilometre race the next day.

Julio Ferreira

                                              Image: Nadia Jordaan

This was, however, not the situation John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Mormond Zarco Challenger) found themselves in after the Qualifying Race.  They broke a rear sideshaft which prevented them from completing the qualifier and starting the race from the back of the field.

It did not hold them back and determination and perseverance resulted in them walking away with their first overall victory in the Special Vehicle category as well as in Class A despite a puncture in the first loop and fuel starvation during the second loop.

Another race victory evaded the current category and Class A leaders, Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT Venom) again, but a second place secured them the Special Vehicle and Class A championships for 2019. They initially experienced misfire issues on Friday and then battled with power steering problems in the main race, but valuable points and more silverware was welcomed by the team from KwaZulu-Natal.

Marc Coma, five-time Dakar Rally winner in the motorbike class and six-time FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, teamed up with Fernando Alonso as his navigator at Toyota Gazoo Racing as the pair continues with an intensive rally raid training programme in the Toyota Hilux.

Following a series of successful training sessions in Namibia and Poland, the multiple world championship winning Spanish duo demonstrated their determination and skills, advancing quickly through the team’s planned targets. As a result, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing decided to enter Fernando and Marc in the Lichtenburg 400, round five of the South African Cross Country Series. Originally scheduled as a non-competitive outing, the crew tested their mettle in a rally raid competition environment for the first time.

The Lichtenburg 400 route comprised of an array of terrains including cornfields, undulating veld, dry river crossings, both technical and open sections. The start/finish was situated at the Lichtenburg Showgrounds from where the route headed south towards the town of Coligny before turning east towards Koster and finally turning north back to the showgrounds.

John Thomson

                                               Image: Nadia Jordaan

Julio Ferreira/Mohamed Moulson (Aceco) took the Class P victory and rounded off the overall Special Vehicle standings after a dry and dusty race in the North-West Province. They also started from the back of the field due to being penalised for wrong slotting just before the finish of the Qualifying Race and not going through the flying finish.

There were problems for the Moosajee brothers, Taahir and Talha (Dunlop Zone Stryker) who posted the fastest time after the Qualifying Race. They were hoping for a good result to keep their title hopes alive. After completing the first of the two loops successfully, they experienced problems and had to call it a day.

Lady Luck also turned her back on the husband and wife pairing of Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck/Jaco Jonck (Total Agri Porter) as a broken gearbox forced them to retire. Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (Mens Clinic Zarco Magnum) were also victims of the event as they dropped a cylinder at the start of the second section after a clean first half of the race.

There were problems for the SxS category leaders, Werner and Leon Mostert (Moto Netix Can-Am Maverick) who were just two seconds slower than SACCS newcomers, Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal after the Qualifying Race. They broke a shaft on the first of the two loops and decided to take the 10 hour penalty and return to DSP for repairs. Despite the penalty, they enjoyed a clean race two with points in the bag, albeit having to settle for the last place on the results.

Theo Erasmus

                                              Image: Nadia Jordaan

Erasmus/Odendaal claimed their first victory in their first national championship event and finished just over eight minutes ahead of Dewald van Breda/Johann du Toit, also in a Can-Am Maverick with Peter Walter/Pierre Jordaan rounding off the podium.

 Walter/Jordaan (Can-Am Maverick) posted the exact same race time as newcomers Ridhwan and Mohammed Dada (Can-Am X3 RS Turbo) who were the very last team to tackle the race on Saturday.

Christo Rose/Dirk Swart (Can-Am Maverick) finished fifth with the Mostert brothers sixth.

The sixth and final round of the season will be taking place at Parys on the border Gauteng on the 1st and 2nd of November.

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