MOTORSPORT NEWS OFF ROAD

PRODUCTION VEHICLE CHAMPIONS CROWNED AFTER TOUGH NATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY SEASON

After six tough rounds of the 2019 South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS), that included the final event of the season at Parys and a three-day marathon event earlier this year in Botswana, the Production Vehicle category champions have been crowned. The points have been calculated and the final standings after hundreds of gruelling kilometres and many hours of racing tell many tales of hardship and bad luck, determination, perseverance, dedication and hard work.

Henk Lategan

The final pieces of the SACCS championship fell into place after a challenging Parys 400 in the Free State where dust as well as muddy conditions after heavy overnight rain added to the nerve-wrecking situation in DSP. In the end a fourth overall and FIA Class victory for Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) confirmed why they had already clinched the overall title as well as the class championship with one event to go.

Five Class T victories and two runner-up results for Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Cross Country Team) resulted in the team finishing the season as the overall runners-up while they also secured their second consecutive Class T championship title.

The final overall podium position belonged to Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) who claimed two victories this season. Lady Luck was not always on their side and they had to fight their way back from the back of the field at the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, the Bronkhorstspruit 400 and recently at Parys after they experienced trouble during the Qualifying Race. The top five in the Overall Drivers’ Championship was rounded off by Chris Visser (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) followed by Shameer Variawa (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux).

Chris Visser

Looking back, Visser will be reminded of a season that started troublesome and included not being able to finish the Berg 400. It did get better and he won the TDR 1000 overall with long-time navigator, Philip Herselman. Unfortunately, he then had to bid farewell to Herselman who relocated to Singapore.

Variawa’s season also started with disappointment when he could not finish the season opener, but five podium positions later, he rounds off the top five.
In the overall Navigators’ Championship Variawa’s navigator, Juan Möhr finished fourth with Boyd Dreyer, who missed a few events, but scored points in various vehicles during the season fifth.

In the class championships, drivers and navigators scored an additional five points for starting an event. This made for the standings in the various class championships to differ somewhat from the overall results. In the FIA Class Drivers’ Championship, Lategan wears the crown followed by De Villiers with Visser in third place. Variawa made it three out of four for the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team by finishing fourth while the newcomer in the Production Vehicle category, Ernest Roberts (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan) rounds off the top five after an eventful season.

Johan van Staden (Elf Renault Duster) is sixth after not being able to finish the first two events of the season while Jaco van Dyk (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan) and Schalk Burger (Schalk Burger Motorsport King Price Extreme) ended the season on the same amount of points. Track racing ace and former rally champion, Clint Weston (Schalk Burger Motorsport King Price Extreme) made his SACCS debut after the halfway mark of the season and after three successful outings he finished ninth with Terence Marsh (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan), who only competed in three events this season rounding off the top 10.

In the FIA Class Navigators’ Championship, ex motorcycle ace Cummings, became the champion after his first season as a navigator, but behind him, it was quite close as only one point eventually separated Möhr in second place from Murphy, who sat out the final event as De Villiers’ international navigator, Alex Haro, read the notes at the Parys 400.

Riaan Greyling played musical seats during the season but gathered enough points to finish fourth with Danie Stassen, who started the season next to Richard Leeke Jnr and read the notes for Visser for the final three events, finished fifth only four points behind Greyling.

Lance Woolridge

Burger’s navigator, Elvené Vonk, finished sixth, one point ahead of Herselman with Mike Lawrenson, who sat next to Van Staden for the best part of the season, in eighth place. Zaheer Bodhanya took over from Stassen next to Leeke Jnr and finished ninth with Henry Köhne, who occupied the seat next to Roberts for the latter half of the season, in tenth.

Behind the double Class T champions (Woolridge/Huxtable) the standings changed a few times. Four podium positions resulted in Johan Horn (Malalane Toyota) taking the runner-up position in the Class T Drivers’ Championship with brother Werner also second in the Navigators’ Championship behind Huxtable despite missing the Parys 400. In the Drivers’ Championship Jacques van Tonder (Ford Ranger) had a consistent season to scoop the final podium position.

Gary Bertholdt (Atlas Copco SA Toyota Hilux) had an eventful season, scoring only half points at the Berg 400 due to power steering problems and only five starting points in Botswana due to illness. He did, however step onto the podium three times during the season and finished fourth with Gareth Woolridge who competed twice, at the season opener and the TDR 1000 and finished on the podium after each occasion, fifth.

Wors Prinsloo (Ford Ranger) had a good first season and is sixth; Leeke Jnr finished seventh after also competing in the FIA Class; Dylan Venter (4×4 Mega World ARB Toyota) is eighth after only competing in Botswana and Parys.  Theuns Joubert (Elf Renault Duster) who made his debut at the 2018 Gold 400 and only put in two appearances this season in Botswana and Bronkhorstspruit is ninth. Venter’s brother and team-mate, Jason, is tenth after competing and winning the class at Bronkhorstspruit.

Davd Huddy

In the Class T Navigators’ Championship, Bertholdt’s navigator, Geoff Minnitt finished third, only two points ahead of Sammy Redelinghuys who sat next to Van Tonder for the first half of the season. Boyd Dreyer is fifth after scoring points next to Gareth Woolridge and Van Tonder. The rest of the top ten consisted of Donovan Lubbe who navigated for Dylan Venter in Botswana and Parys and scored enough points to finish sixth.  Kenneth Venter, Prinsloo’s navigator at the Berg 400 and the first of the two heats in Botswana is seventh. Jaco van Aardt who read the notes for Jason Venter to win at Bronkhorstspruit finished the season in eighth place while Köhne who competed in Botswana next to Joubert is ninth and Minette Johnstone who teamed up with husband, Bernard, at Bronkhorstspruit and Lichtenburg finished 10th.

The Class S championship was owned by David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (HUD Racing Nissan Navara) from the start. They won all the events except the final round at Parys when they had to call it a day due to gearbox problems. Jannie Visser and his son, Pieter, competed and scored points at the TDR 1000 to finish the season as the runners-up while Archie Rutherford and his son, Kent, took third place in their Toyota Hilux.

The coveted Manufacturers Awards went to Toyota (607 points) followed by Ford (259 points); Nissan (147 points) and Renault (38 points).