FIRST HARD-EARNED POINTS FOR SPECIAL VEHICLE TEAMS IN THE BAG AFTER TOUGH MPUMALANGA 400
Scoring the first points of the 2020 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) at the Mpumalanga 400 in the Dullstroom area, was not an easy task for teams in the Special Vehicle category and those who survived the tricky weather conditions and the route that was as wet as it was dry, have without doubt earned their points. With the popular Class G Side x Side vehicles now competing with Class A and P teams for the overall championship, the standings make for interesting reading.
The overall championship as well as the standings in the Class A and Class G SxS championships predict fierce competition at the upcoming Sugarbelt 400, the second round of the SACCS that will take place in KwaZulu-Natal in April.
The Mpumalanga 400 took its toll on the Special Vehicle teams and only seven teams managed to walk away with points in the overall standings as well in the class championships. Clint Gibson/Alaric Smith (Dirt Sport Components Stryker) had a successful debut in Dullstroom and got their season off to a good start leading both the overall standings as well as the Class A championship. It was also a good outing for newcomer driver, Tim Howes, with seasoned racer, Gary Campbell (Zarco Magnum) who are second in the overall standings (23 points), trailing the leaders by seven points.
Dean Bradbury/Timmy Botes (Evergreen Motorsport) round off the overall podium and made a little bit of history by scoring the first victory and points for the Canon Rotex SxS. They are five points behind Howes/Campbell, but only three points ahead of another SxS team, Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick) with yet another SxS team, Nico du Rand/Rikus Hattingh (Can-Am Maverick) rounding off the overall top five, three points behind Erasmus/Odendaal.
Only one more Class A team, the husband and wife pairing of Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck and Jaco Jonck (Total Agri Porter) managed to bring their powerful two-wheel drive vehicle home in the Special Vehicle category despite mechanical issues. Their first points for the season put them in sixth place overall, only two points behind Du Rand/Hattingh, but only one point ahead of the father and son team of Kent Rutherford, only 17 and the youngest driver in the championship, behind the wheel and dad Archie reading the notes in the Class G Can-Am Maverick.
This was Rutherford Junior’s debut event behind the wheel at an event that was extremely tough and tricky with lots of rain turning the route into a technical test.
In the various class championships, competitors received five points for starting the Mpumalanga 400 and these points might come in handy later in the series. In the Class A championship, Gibson/Smith (35 points) took the lead ahead of Howes/Campbell (28 points) with the Jonck couple (23 points) rounding off the podium. Only 12 points cover the leading three teams and a slip-up for any one can mean sliding down the points ladder that might look somewhat different after the next round.
John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Mormond Zarco); Trace Price Moor/Shaun Braithwaite (BAT) and André Fourie/Hendrikus Pienaar (BAT) all have five points and will play catch-up from now on.
In the Class G SxS Championship, the line has been drawn in the sand and the first ever SA National SxS Champions, brothers, Werner and Leon Mostert (Team Elf Renault DE Can-Am), who had to retire in the main race due to damage after they hit a rock, will have to work hard to defend their title successfully. Bradbury/Botes (35 points) have a lead of seven points ahead of Erasmus/Odendaal (28 points) with Du Rand/Hattingh (23 points) also on the podium, five points behind. The Rutherfords are just off the podium in fourth place and trail by a mere three points.
The Mosterts as well as Christo Rose/Arno Olivier (Can-Am) and Markus Labuschagne/Gert Niemand (Can-Am) all have five points and will hope for their luck to turn in KZN.
A good outing for the teams and the regular finishers as well as the decisions of a temperamental Lady Luck, might just result in the standing changing drastically before the season reaches the halfway mark.
The second round of the 2020 SACCS season, the Sugarbelt 400, will determine the next set of points and will take place on 3 and 4 April in the Eston/Mid Illovo area.
Points: click to download