The Qualifying race for the Special Vehicle category on the Mpumalanga 400 was won by the team from KwaZulu-Natal, Lance Trethewey and Adriaan Roets in their Class A LT Earthmovers BAT Venom who conquered the route in the fastest time.
The 67km Qualifying route was scenic and not as slippery as last year, but it was a new experience for Trethewey/Roets as they missed this event last year. It seems the KZN team is continuing their winning streak from last season where they were victorious on the final two events of the 2018 season.
“You had to be wide awake all the time and the route was tight,” Trethewey said afterwards. The team were 4min 43 seconds faster than John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (BAT Warbird) who would like another podium finish at this event when they finished second in the Special Vehicle category. John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) posted the third fastest time and trailed the BAT ahead of them by just over a minute and a half.
Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck, in her first season as the driver with husband Jaco in the navigator seat of the Total Agri Porter, were fourth fastest. Although Sandra was enjoying herself behind the wheel, hubby Jaco suffered severely from motion sickness. It was not the best day for the couple in their office as they also lost time due to a few wrong slots. To top it all, the right rear bolt on the calliper broke and they lost all the brake fluid resulting in them not having any brakes for half of the route.
The Tyre Rack team of Taahir and Talha Moosajee (Stryker) rounded off the Special Vehicle category and Class A with their team-mates, Rayhaan and Lais Bodhanya in the Porter rolling out of contention about 35km into the route.
The Side by Side National Championship Class got off to a good start with four teams finishing the 67km Prologue within six minutes of each other.
Peter Walter/Shaun de Villiers (Can-Am Maverick) posted the fastest time but were only 16 seconds ahead of Ashley Bradbury/Timmy Botes (Can-Am Maverick) with the Mostert brothers, Werner and Leon, also in a Can-Am Maverick, only 12 seconds further behind. It was only the second time Werner’s elder brother, Leon, sat next to him and they enjoyed the route that had a bit of everything as part of the challenge.
Dakar Rally motorcycle finisher, Gerry van der Byl, took on his first race on four wheels and together with Andrew Katay (Can-Am Maverick) in the navigator seat, completed the Qualifying race in a respectable time, six minutes behind the leaders.
On Saturday, the racing action takes place from the Village Green Cricket Oval in Dullstroom where the Start/Finish as well as the designated service area (DSP) and Race Headquarters are situated. The race will start at 08:30 from the cricket oval and after completing the first of two 161km loops, the teams will have a 30 minute compulsory break. Supporters will have the opportunity to get close to their favourite teams for poster signing and photos before the teams leave to take on the final loop.