Production vehicle category will be a competitive star-studded affair at Bronkhorstspruit 400

Ernst Roberts

The 2019 season reached the halfway mark just over a month ago with the Toyota Desert Race 1000 in Botswana and after three days of racing and a thousand kilometres later, the standings looked somewhat different than before the gruelling marathon event. With only three events remaining, there is not much time left to claim as many points as possible towards the various championship titles. Add to that the unknown factor of new blood at the Bronkhorstspruit 400, an exciting 400 kilometres of racing can be expected.

It was quite a dramatic and emotional overall TDR 1000 victory for Chris Visser and Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota) as it was Herselman’s final event before relocating to Singapore. Visser, the 2010 Overall Production Vehicle Champion and Herselman teamed up during the 2016 season and winning in Botswana was quite a memorable farewell gift.

Herselman will be replaced by the quadruple Special Vehicle Navigator’s champion, Danie Stassen who read the notes for Richard Leeke Jnr in recent events. Stassen won his championship titles alongside Evan Hutchison in a BAT in 2012 and 2013 and then again in 2015 and 2016. After good results and lots of points in Botswana, Visser (and Herselman) made a huge jump in the Overall Production Vehicle standings as well as in the FIA Class championship and Stassen will join Visser in his fight to the top.

Newcomer in the Production Vehicle category and the FIA Class, Ernest Roberts (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara), has acquired the services of Henry Köhne for the Bronkhorstspruit 400 as Riaan Greyling his regular navigator will miss the event due to a commitment to mountain bike racing, another of his favourite sports. Köhne navigated for Theuns Joubert in the Elf Renault Duster in Botswana. Theuns is still to announce who will fill the seat next to him in Bronkhorstspruit. Roberts has made a good start to the season but would like to make up for only scoring after one of the two heats in Botswana.

There is even more to look forward to in the FIA Class as the former track and rally champion, Clint Weston, will be joining the cross country fray and will do so from behind the wheel of the King Price Extreme vehicle. His navigator is also still to be announced. King Price Extreme team principal Schalk Burger and Elvene Vonk will be looking at building on their good performance at the recent TDR 1000. Burger will also be using the event to announce his Dakar Rally campaign.

The Schröder family from Germany are no strangers to the SACCS community and this time Jürgen’s son, Daniel, will get his turn behind the wheel of the WCT Engineering/PS Laser Nissan Navara. Jürgen first teamed up with Alfie Cox in 2010 and in 2015 Daniel’s brother, Max, participated with his father in the SACCS.

The family have also tackled the Dakar Rally on numerous occasions and competed in the FIA Cross Country World Cup. The motorcycle racer, Ryan Bland, who was scheduled to participate in the 2019 Dakar Rally, but had to withdraw after he broke his back, will read the notes for the young German driver.

In the FIA Class the battles will continue between team-mates as well as between the different teams and with the addition of new names and vehicles, the outcome might just spring a few surprises. The three Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux teams will fight one another and the rest for the best possible results. Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings will be looking to extend their overall and FIA Class lead while Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy will be aiming for good points to make up for a disappointing TDR 1000. Shameer Variawa/Juan Möhr are also in the mix and would like nothing better than more podium results.

Shameer Variawa

Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Elf Renault Duster) will again be aiming for solid results as will the Namibians, Jaco van Dyk and Michel Rust (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara), who won their entry into the Dakar Rally at the recent Road to Dakar Challenge in Botswana.

In Class T, a familiar face as well as a new name will be joining the competition. Experienced navigator, André Vermeulen will sit next to newcomer Wors Prinsloo (Ford Ranger) who will be participating in only his third SACCS race. Vermeulen, who navigated his way to various titles in rally championships, started his cross country adventure in 2008 alongside Gary Bertholdt in the Special Vehicle category before turning his expertise to the Production Vehicle category sitting next to Luke Botha.

The Bronkhorstspruit 400 will be an all new adventure for Simon Vacy-Lyle who navigates for Guy Botterill in the National Rally Championship. Vacy-Lyle has five championship titles behind his name and his experience will come in handy when he takes his seat next to Richard Leeke Jnr in the ATS Ford Ranger in his very first cross country outing.

In Class T, Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Cross Country Team Ranger) will be looking to add another victory to his flawless record so far this season. The team have a comfortable lead ahead of Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) who would hope for an outing where they can close the gap to the leaders. The Brazilian team of Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea will be in the second Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger.

Christian Baumgart

Jacques van Tonder/Sammy Redelinghuys (Ford Ranger) scored after each event and with Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer not competing in the Bronkhorstspruit 400, they stand a chance to gain a position on the Class T podium. Fireworks can be expected from Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) who had to throw in the towel in Botswana due to Bertholdt being ill.

Veteran competitor, Jannie Visser has moved from Class S to Class T for this event and will take on the competition together with Danie Maré in the Feeler Africa Ford Ranger while Malcolm Kock and Sean van Staden will also be in a Ford Ranger.

The Class S leaders, David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (Hud Racing Nissan Navara) will have competition in the form of Archie Rutherford and his son Kent (Toyota Hilux).

The Bronkhorstspruit 400 starts on Friday, 2 August at the Soetdoring Function Venue on the outskirts of Bronkhorstspruit where the race headquarters, start/finish and designated service park (DSP) will be situated. After the official administrative checks have been completed, competitors will tackle a 60km qualifying race that will determine the starting order for Saturday’s main race.

On Saturday, 3 August the first vehicle will be out of the starting blocks at 08:00 and teams will take on a 180km loop. After completing the loop once, they will return to DSP for a 30 minute compulsory de-control before taking on the loop again at 12:00. Enthusiasts can acquire spectator guides from race headquarters at Soetdoring Function Venue where food and refreshments will also be available during the course of the weekend.