The 2020 South African National Cross Country Championship (SACCS) is ready for action as the final touches are being made to the season opener, the Mpumalanga 400, that takes place in the Dullstroom and Belfast areas on 28 and 29 February.
The popular Mpumalanga 400, driven and supported by Johan Horn and the Malalane Toyota team, was awarded Event of the Year in 2018 and regular as well as new SACCS competitors will again experience why this event counts as one of the favourites on the calendar. The event brings spectacular action to the quaint little town that is not only a piece of heaven for fly fishing enthusiasts but also renowned for its incredible beauty and the perfect weekend or holiday break-away for Gauteng visitors.
As in previous years, Race Headquarters for the Mpumalanga 400 as well as the Start/Finish and Designated Service Point (DSP) will be based at the Village Green Cricket Oval in Dullstroom. On Friday, 28 February the action gets underway at 13:00 when teams depart in their roaring and powerful vehicles on the 65km Qualifying Race to determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday.
On Saturday, 29 February the leading vehicle will leave the start line at the cricket oval at 08:00. Teams will have to complete the 165km loop once before a compulsory 30 minute service stop at DSP. They will then tackle the 165km loop again at 12:00 and will complete the race and spraying of champagne back at the cricket oval.
According to the newly appointed Route Director, former multiple cross country champion, Evan Hutchison, who is working with Adri Roets, the route for the 2020 edition of the Mpumalanga 400 will be basically unchanged from the previous year barring a few small amendments. Hutchison and Roets, who has been the SACCS Route Director since 2010 will be assisting Hutchison with the first few events of the season, have been hard at work on the route while the area has also received good rains.
The Dullstroom area is known for its spectacular scenery and the recent rains have added even more greenery that will welcome teams, crews, supporters and spectators to the Mpumalanga 400. Except for the breath-taking natural scenery and the roads that meander through the valleys between Belfast and Dullstroom, the town is also the highest town in the country and if visitors can find time in-between the action, a visit to the various interesting shops, that include the work of numerous artists, is a must.
As in the past, SACCS will again join forces with local organisations like the South African National Epilepsy League (SANEL), the Hervormde Kerk and the Old Transvaal Inn who will provide refreshment at DSP throughout the weekend while Drive Dullstroom’s Destiny (DDD), an organisation run and funded by property and business owners of the village who want to see Dullstroom succeed, will provide cleaning service at the event.
It has become a tradition for the event to be opened by the Executive Mayor Councillor, TD Ngwenya and this will take place at 12:30 before the action starts with the Qualifying Race on Friday. Another tradition that will continue this season will be the charity initiative where 200 pairs of school shoes will be donated to children from various schools in the area. This year the Emakhazeni Boarding School as well as the Mpilonhle Primary School and the Siyifunile Secondary School will benefit from the program.
SACCS are truly thankful to the landowners and local authorities who welcomed the Mpumalanga 400 event back to the area for the third consecutive year. Without their assistance and support as well as the continued backing from Johan Horn and Malalane Toyota, the running of this popular cross country event will not be possible.
With Dullstroom approximately two hours’ drive from Gauteng and even less from Nelspruit, spectators and enthusiasts can easily be part of the action. Bear in mind, new teams and vehicles will be in action while the defending champions will be challenged for their crowns from this event, and a weekend full of fierce competition is on the cards.
Entry to the Village Green Cricket Oval will be free of charge as will entry to the various vantage points along the route on both Friday and Saturday. Spectators will also be able to meet their racing heroes, including teams who participated in the recent Dakar Rally, and the opportunity to see these spectacular vehicles from up close.