After three rounds of the South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) and a healthy dollop of double points up for grabs at the recent Toyota 1000 Desert Race (TDR 1000) in Botswana, consistency was the name of the game for the overall and Class A leaders in the Special Vehicle Championship and with only three rounds remaining, the rest of the teams will have to play catch-up if they do not want to lose their grip on the titles.
The recent TDR 1000, the only marathon event on the SACCS calendar that took place in Botswana, awarded teams, who managed to complete all three days successfully, handsomely. There were also points for teams who experienced problems and only finished either the first or the second heat and these points could come in handy in the second half of the season.
After winning the first two events of the season and claiming two more victories in Botswana, Lance Trethewey and Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT) are comfortably in the overall lead of the Special Vehicle championship. They have built a buffer of 61 points ahead of John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT) who made a good start to the season, but then lost out on valuable points on the final day in Botswana. Not scoring in the final heat in Botswana was the first time in 21 starts that they could not make it to the finish.
While they might not have Trethewey/Roets clearly in their sights at the moment, the pair will have to focus on the young Moosajee team behind them as brothers Taahir and Talha (Dunlop Zone Stryker), who completed their first TDR 1000 adventure successfully, are now only four points behind. The Moosajee brothers could not finish the Berg 400 earlier this year but scoring points in Heat One and Heat Two in Botswana saw them moving onto the overall podium.
They will, however, have to tread carefully as a mere two points separate them from Clint Gibson/Alaric Smith (Dirtsport Stryker) who missed the season opener but made up for it by scoring double digit points in Botswana. With Trethewey/Roets almost untouchable in the lead, a blanket of only six points cover the teams in the second, third and fourth places. This means that no one can afford to miss an event or put a wheel wrong during the second half of the season.
Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco) also missed the season opener, but scored consistently during the next two events and round off the top five behind Gibson/Smith.
After winning the TDR 1000 last year navigating for her father, Coetzee Labuschagne, there was disappointment for Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck and husband, Jaco in the Total Agri Porter this year. It was an all-new Botswana Desert Race experience for Sandra who tackled this tough event behind the wheel of the powerful Porter with husband Jaco reading the notes. Technical and mechanical problems during the course of the three days resulted in them not scoring any points towards the overall standings and dropped back to the sixth place, three points behind Goslar/Massey.
John Thomson (Zarco), having won Heat Two of the 2018 TDR 1000 with Maurice Zermatten, this year made use of two navigators, Maurice Zermatten who missed Heat One due to business commitments and Clint McNamara and returned from Botswana with good points after not being able to score twice earlier this year.
This effort sees Thomson in seventh place overall, three points behind Labuschagne-Jonck and Zermatten dropping to eighth in the overall navigators’ standings. Every point counts, and with six points the difference between Goslar/Massey in fifth place, the Jonck couple in sixth and Thomson/Zermatten in seventh and eighth respectively, they too will have to watch their every step during the remainder of the season.
Botswana driver Julio Ferreira, who teamed up with Johan Basson (Aceco) for his annual pilgrimage to the TDR 1000, was rewarded with enough points to put him in eighth place overall, just eight points ahead of Ralph Voigts (Dirtsport BAT) whose season has not yet reached the heights he and brother Andre would have wanted. Keith du Toit (Porter) rounds off the overall drivers’ standings, four points behind Voigts.
Stewart van Graan, who read the notes for Botswana driver, Lepsy Mosope (Zarco) who does not score points towards the SACCS standings, is one point ahead of Zermatten and Basson (Ferreira’s navigator) level pegging on 18 points. Rounding off the top ten is Boyd Dreyer, who competed in the Special Vehicle category at the Berg 400.
Things look a little different in the Class A championship as competitors are awarded an additional five points for starting a race. Trethewey/Roets still lead the class championship, but here they are 59 points ahead of the Moosajee brothers with Telford/Ntsekhe a mere two points behind them on the third step of the podium. This predicts an intriguing battle that will continue at the remaining events this season.
Gibson is fourth in the Class A drivers’ championship, 11 points behind Telford and 15 points ahead of Labuschagne-Jonck with Thomson a further eight points adrift, followed by Voigts and Du Toit. In the Class A navigators’ standings, Jonck is fourth, 26 points behind Ntsekhe. Gibson’s navigator, Alaric Smith, occupies fifth spot with 48 points, 20 points ahead of Zermatten with Andre Voigts seventh. Dreyer is eighth, Xander Mare, who sat next Du Toit, is ninth with Lais Bodhanya rounding off the top 10.
In the Class P championship, Goslar/Massey lead Ferreira/Basson by 23 points with Keith Makenete, who only competed in the Berg 400, rounding off the Class P drivers’ championship. In the navigators’ standings, Basson is followed by Van Graan with four points the difference and Ntaote Bereng, who sat next to Makenete at the Berg 400, fourth.
The standings in the Side x Side National Championship (SxS NC), where all competitors compete with identical Can-Am Maverick models, has a totally different look after the TDR 1000 as a few teams, who did not participate in the first two rounds of the season, stirred things up a bit by scoring consistently in Botswana.
A victory and runner-up result at the recent TDR 1000 including two more wins so far this season confirmed the lead for Werner and Leon Mostert in the Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick. They have quite a comfortable lead as 51 points separate them from Wickus Haasbroek/Jurgens Smith who competed for the first time in the recent desert race and took a victory and a third place.
They are 15 points ahead of Christo Rose/Dirk Swart, who left Botswana with a podium result and a fourth place after their first outing of the season. Gerry van der Byl/Andrew Katay dropped off the SxS podium after not competing in Botswana and now trail Rose/Swart by six points while Peter Walter/Shaun De Villiers, who also missed the Desert are now fifth, two points behind Van der Byl/Katay.
The TDR 1000 was the first national outing for Dewald van Breda/Johan du Toit who finished second after Heat One but could not complete Heat Two. This puts them in sixth place, two points behind Walter/De Villiers and 11 points ahead of Dean Bradbury/Rikus Hattingh who could only score in Heat One in Botswana as well as Ashley Bradbury/Timmy Botes who did not go to Botswana but scored at the season opener.
The efforts of Markus Labuschagne/Neil Putter to go to the TDR 1000 were rewarded with points after Heat One. They are ninth overall in the SxS NC, two points behind the Bradbury brothers and their respective navigators Botes and Hattingh.
Round four of the SACCS Special Vehicle championship takes place on 2 and 3 August at the Bronkhorstspruit 400.