There seems to be no end to the level of excitement of the 2019 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) and with only two rounds of the season remaining, a change of venue as well as the appearance of an international motorsport hero, will add spice to the current brew.
Due to the extremely dry and unseasonable windy conditions in the Eastern Free State, Harrismith and the surrounding area has been identified as a high risk fire zone. This resulted in a change of venue and the North-West town of Lichtenburg has stepped into the breach.
The North West Province is seen as the spiritual home of cross country racing and the Lichtenburg 400 will offer enthusiasts from the greater Gauteng area, the Vaal Triangle and other North West towns the opportunity to witness the spectacular action of South Africa’s premier motorsport adventure. The Lichtenburg 400 will form the fifth and penultimate round of the SACCS and will take place on the scheduled weekend of 13 and 14 September.
Local businessman and SACCS chief route marshal, Hannes van Rensburg, with the assistance of the local farmers, has identified an inspiring route of approximately 400 kilometres in the Lichtenburg area. The SACCS is hugely appreciative of their dedication, effort and support and is looking forward to return to this area for more action-packed cross country racing.
The route will comprise a veritable array of terrain including mealie fields, undulating veld, a dry river crossing, some technical areas and open sections.
The Start/Finish as well as Race Headquarters will be situated at the Lichtenburg Showgrounds from where the route will head south towards the town of Coligny before it turns east towards Koster. From there it will turn north and back to the showgrounds.
“While there are still a few refinements to be made, competitors can look forward to a course that is going to be both challenging and enjoyable with plenty of easy to reach vantage points from where enthusiasts can enjoy the action,” Greg Higgins, SACCS Events Director, said. “Cross country events have been hosted in the Lichtenburg area for decades and the local communities are looking forward to this round of the SACCS,” he said.
To add to the excitement came the news of two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, who will be participating in the Lichtenburg 400 on a non-competition basis. Alonso has been testing the Toyota Hilux with Toyota Gazoo Racing in Namibia this past week as part of a series of tests scheduled for the upcoming months.
Alonso (38), who is also a double Le Mans 24 Hour winner, the reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder and has won the 24 Hour of Daytona, is working closely with Toyota Gazoo Racing and its Dakar Rally team. He is undergoing an intensive training programme in the Toyota Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The SACCS championship is widely regarded as one of the most professional and competitive cross country series in the world with various international teams participating in South Africa on a regular basis in preparation for gruelling events across the globe.
With the various SACCS title chases now in the home stretch, the Lichtenburg 400 will play an important role in the outcome of the battles, and this will only add yet another dimension of nail-biting pressure to the event.