Championship titles won, but podium battles go down to the wire in special vehicle category

As the dust settled over the Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of the 2019 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) that took place in the North-West Province on 13 and 14 September, a few happy faces appeared in the Special Vehicle category knowing that there is not only more silverware for the shelves, but titles in the bag. While there will be less pressure for some at the final round of the series in November, various podium places as well as final standings are still open, and the battles will go down to the wire.

The season started on a high note for Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT Venom) who took on the season after winning the final two rounds of the 2018 season and won the first three events this year. Their clean sweep was then temporarily interrupted when mechanical issues resulted in them not finishing the fourth round at Bronkhorstspruit and even though they experienced some technical difficulties at the recent Lichtenburg 400, a second place was enough for them to secure the overall Special Vehicle category championship as well as the Class A Drivers and Navigators championship titles.

Looking at the points in the Drivers’ Championship of the Special Vehicle category, there is a chance for Taahir Moosajee (Dunlop Zone Stryker) to finish as the runner-up if he can overtake Clint Gibson (Dirt Sport Stryker) who missed the opening round as well as the Lichtenburg 400. The Moosajee brothers with Talha in the navigator’s seat, have scored three podium results so far this season, but after winning the Qualifying Race at Lichtenburg, they could unfortunately not see out the distance in the main race.

Taahir (78 points) trails Gibson (83 points) by only five points in the overall standings, but the roles are swopped in the Class A Drivers Championship standings where competitors are awarded five points for starting an event. Here Taahir (109 points) is second behind Trethewey and he leads third-placed Gibson (96 points) by 13 points.

After not completing the Qualifying Race and having to start from the back of the field at Lichtenburg, John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Mormond Zarco Challenger) fought their way back to take their first victory of the season. These points put Thomson (78 points) on par with the young Taahir in the Drivers’ Championship and an interesting battle for the podium can be expected at the Parys final. John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT) missed the last two events with Telford (59 points) now 19 points behind Thomson.

Thomson (88 points) and Telford (79 points) are also fourth and fifth in the Class A Drivers Championship where Thomson is close enough to catch Gibson while Telford can close to gap to fourth place.

Julio Ferreira (Aceco) leads Class P and is sixth in the overall Drivers Championship after winning the class at the Lichtenburg 400 despite starting from the back of the field. He leads Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck (39 points) who, together with husband, Jaco Jonck (Total Agri Porter) could not finish at Lichtenburg. In the Class A Drivers Championship, Sandra (69 points) is sixth, only 10 points behind Telford.

In the overall Navigators Championship, Roets can relax at the final event, but the battle for the final two podium places will continue. Talha (78 points) is currently second followed by Alaric Smith (68 points) who read the notes for Gibson in Botswana and at Bronkhorstspruit. He leads Zermatten (66 points) by a slender two points. Ntsekhe (59 points) is fifth with Jaco Jonck (39 points) sixth and Andrew Massy (36 points), who reads the notes for Nic Goslar (Mens Clinic Zarco Magnum) in Class P, seventh. The rest are somewhat further behind on points due to irregular participation and swopping seats.

In the Class A Navigators Championship, Talha (109 points) is fairly safe in second place behind Roets, but only 10 points cover the four navigators behind him. Ntsekhe (79 points) is currently third followed by Smith (76 points); Zermatten (71 points) and Jonck (69 points). Like in the Class A overall navigators’ standings, the rest of the competitors have scored irregularly resulting in them dropping down the leader board.

In the Class P Drivers Championship, Ferreira (71 points) took the lead with Goslar (67 points) dropping to second place after not reaching the finish line at Lichtenburg. Keith Makenete (10 points) is third and Guy Henley (CR2) fourth.
Goslar’s navigator (Massey) is home safe in the Class P Navigators Championship with Johan Basson (34 points), who navigated for Ferreira in Botswana, second only four points ahead of Stewart van Graan (30 points) who only competed in Botswana for local driver, Lepsy Mosope, third. Ferreira put three navigators in the top five in the Class P standings.  Mohamed Moultson (20 points) is fourth after their recent victory at Lichtenburg while Onkabetse Seemise (17 points) is fifth after scoring points next to him at Bronkhorstspruit.

The Side x Side National Championship (SxS NC) will be crowning their first national champions this season and the competition has been tough. After an up and down season so far, including winning the first two events as well as the first race of the marathon three-day event in Botswana, but having a scare with mechanical difficulties and a 10 hour penalty at the recent Lichtenburg 400, Werner and Leon Mostert have secured the overall as well as the SxS NC Drivers and Navigators Championship titles.

Consistent participation and earning regular points since their first outing in Botswana see Christo Rose/Dirk Swart moving into second place in this new championship. They overtook Wickus Haasbroek/Jurgens Smith (81 points) who also only competed for the first time at the Toyota Desert Race 1000 in Botswana, but then missed the Lichtenburg event. The final battle for the two remaining podium positions will also see Dewald van Breda/Johan du Toit (78 points), who finished second in Lichtenburg, joining the fray.

Pieter Walter (58 points) rounds off the SxS Driver’s Championship while navigator, Andrew Katay (37 points) is fifth in the navigator’s standings having sat next to Gerry van der Byl (37 points) for the first two events of the season. Van der Byl leads the Lichtenburg 400 winner Theo Erasmus (35 points) by two points while Dean Bradbury (22 points); Ashley Bradbury (22 points) and Markus Labuschagne (20 points) round off the top 10. All teams competed with Can-Am Maverick SxS vehicles.

In the SxS Navigators Championship, Edward Odendaal, who navigated for Erasmus, has the same points (35 points) as De Villiers while Pierre Jordaan (23 points), who navigated for Walter at Lichtenburg, is eighth, one point ahead of Rikus Hattingh (22 points) who sat next to Dean Bradbury for the Botswana marathon event. Timmy Botes (22) navigated for Ashley Bradbury for the first two events and is 10th with Labuschagne’s navigator, Neil Putter (20 points) 11th.

With the final standings depending on the results of the sixth and final round of the season, the action in both the Special Vehicle category as the SxS NC at Parys on 1 and 2 November will be heated, and spectators will not be disappointed.

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