The Harrismith 400, the penultimate round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) that took place this weekend saw new winners emerg while racing conditions claimed its victims that will result in the standings looking somewhat different when teams line up for the final event.
Gale force winds during the qualifying and main race and dry and dusty conditions characterised this fifth round of the 2018 season that tested man and machine from start to finish. With one eye on finishing the race and scoring points towards the championships and another on the rivals, everyone knew the Harrismith 400 would play an important role at this stage of the season.
The KwaZulu-Natal entry of Lance Trethewey and Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT) have reason to celebrate as they took their first win of the season. Trethewey/Roets posted the fastest time after the 39.5km qualifying race on Friday and were the first Special Vehicle off the start line. “We had an excellent run and really enjoyed the route,” Trethewey said after completing the full race distance of around 400 kilometres and scoring their first points of the season.
They were followed by another KZN team, André/Ralph Voigts (Voigts Group BAT Venom) who competed for the second time this season in the SACCS championship. They added their runner-up result in Class A to their victory at Dundee earlier this season.
John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT Warbird) were the fifth Special Vehicle off the line and survived a scary moment during the first half of the race. They rounded off the Class A podium and were just under two minutes clear of their rivals and the Class A leaders, Coetzee Labuschagne/Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck (4×4 Mega World ARB Porter). Telford/Ntsekhe are chasing the Labuscagne father and daughter paring and scoring a few points more than the current leaders, might see them closing the gap and adding the pressure at the final event.
Class P was won by Keith Makenete/Ntaote Bereng (BAT Spec 2) who struggled with clutch problems during the qualifying race and started way back down the field. Their victory also put their first points on the scoreboard for the season.
There was disappointment for a few teams who would have wanted nothing less than lots of points in the bag before the final event. After their victory at the recent Atlas Copco 400 as well as winning the opening round, Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse (Live Lesotho Chenowth) could not finish at Harrismith while their team-mates, Werner Kennedy/CJ van Pletzen (Porter), who started the race from third place, also had to throw in the towel due to clutch problems.
Nic Goslar (Zarco Magnum) could also not add more points towards his title chase, but he is still leading Class P despite not finishing the Free State event. Goslar/Joe Lima experienced a consistent misfire throughout the event and choose to retire before risking the motor.
The Side-by-Side Interprovincial Challenge was won by Nico du Rand/Henry Köhne (Can-Am) who also won the qualifying race. It was, however, a close fought battle with Werner Mostert/JG Claassen (Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS) who were less than a minute and a half behind. Peter Walter/Shaun de Villiers (Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS) retired early while Ernest Roberts/Stuart Creevy (Can-AM Maverick) could also not complete the race.