With three of the six rounds of the 2018 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS), including the recent Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race where double points were up for grabs now something of the past, teams will have to strategise and plan how they approach the second half of the season.

Lance Woolridge Image: Nadia Jordaan

As expected, the order of the various championships changed somewhat after the gruelling TDR 1000, but after winning the first two rounds earlier this season as well as the final day in Botswana, Giniel de Villiers (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) is securely in the lead of the overall drivers’ championship in the Production Vehicle category as well as the FIA Class.

On the overall standings, De Villiers leads the NWM Ford Ranger driver, Lance Woolridge, who could not score any points on the final day in Botswana, by 49 points.  Johan Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) rounds off the podium and trails Woolridge by 11 points.

De Villiers’ team-mate, Henk Lategan (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) took his first victory of the season when he won the opening heat in Botswana but could also not finish on the last day and is fourth overall, three points behind Horn and six points ahead of Gary Bertholdt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) who had a great run in Botswana, but not scoring points at the opening round, has put him back somewhat.

In the overall navigators’ standings, Dennis Murphy, who replaced the injured Rob Howie alongside De Villiers after round one, is also in the lead, but is only 29 points ahead of Woolridge’s navigator, Ward Huxtable, who is 11 points ahead of Werner Horn who navigates for his brother Johan in the Malalane Toyota Hilux.  Bertholdt’s navigator, Geoff Minnitt, is ahead of Barry White, who has partnered Lategan at the last two events with only four points separating them while Minnitt trails Horn by nine points.

Giniel de Villiers

De Villiers also has a comfortable lead in the drivers’ standings in the FIA Class where he leads team-mate, Lategan by 45 points with Chris Visser (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), sixth in the overall standings, rounding off the podium, 27 points behind Lategan. Terence Marsh (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara) scored points in both heats in the desert and is fourth, six points behind Visser and five points ahead of Jason Venter (4×4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) who had a problematic outing in Botswana and only scored points on the final day. Brian Baragwanath (CR6) earned his first podium results in the desert and is sixth after a lucrative points haul in the challenging conditions.

Murphy, paired with youngster Lategan in round one, heads the navigators in the FIA Class 45 points clear of team-mate White with Visser’s navigator, Philip Herselman, 26 points further behind. Only eleven points separate the navigators from third to sixth place with Riaan Greyling, who reads the notes for Marsh, six points behind Herselman and five points ahead of Rob Howie.  Jaco van Aardt (4×4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) is sixth with Baragwanath’s navigator, Leonard Cremer, seventh.

The battle is on between the drivers and navigators in Class T where Woolridge/Huxtable lead the Horn siblings by only seven points. Bertholdt/Minnitt are third, 22 points behind the Horns, but they will have to be on the look-out for fourth-placed Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Ranger) who trail them by only eight points. Hennie de Klerk/Japie Badenhorst (VW Amarok), who only competed in the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race so far this year, round off the top five in both Class T championships.

The Class S championship dominated by David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (Nissan Navara) and the father and son combination of Archie and Kent Rutherford (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) so far this season, took on a new guise with guest appearances by North West crews Heinie Strumpher/Henri Hugo and Jannie Visser and son Chris. Rutherford who missed the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race holds onto second place behind Huddy and Schutte with Strumpher/Hugo and the Vissers third and fourth respectively.

Toyota has nothing to fear in their charge for the Manufacturer’s Award. They have 362 points with Ford in second place (98 points) while Nissan is third (43 points), Renault fourth (24 points) and CR fifth (22 points). Volkswagen has 15 points and BMW seven.

Teams will travel to a new event in Bronkhorstspruit at the Soetdoring Function Venue on the outskirts of Gauteng for round four of the series that takes place on 3 and 4 August.