Round four of the 2017 South African Cross Country Series will take place in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend, with the inaugural Harrismith 400 event adding a new dimension to the country’s toughest motorsport championship chase.
Topping the entry list and overall victory favourites wil be the factory Gazoo Toyota Hilux entries of Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie and Giniel de Villiers/Denis Murphy, who have won all of the season’s races between them thus far.
Chasing them in the premier FIA class will be Johan van Staden/ Juan Mohr (Elf Renault Duster), Terence Marsh/ Brent Lindeque (Red-Lined Nissan Navara) and Hennie de Klerk/ Adriaan Roets (Atlas Copco VW Amarok).
The fight in Class T will be tough, with top crews expected to be Johan/ Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux), the Puma Lubricants Ford Ranger entries of Lance Woolridge/ Ward Huxtable, Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer and Henk Lategan/ Barry White, plus the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux crews of Jason Venter/ Vince van Allemann and Deon Venter/Jaco van Aardt.
Others to watch will include Chris Visser/ Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Jacques van Tonder/Leander Pienaar (Ford Ranger), Luke Botha/ Andre Vermeulen (Red-Lined Nissan Navara) and Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer (Ford Ranger).
Class S should provide a fight between crews like Jannie/ Chris Visser (Toyota Hilux), David Huddy/ Gerhard Schutte (Nissan Navara) and Richard Leeke Junior/ Henry Kohne (Ford Ranger).
- Heading up the Special Vehicle category will be Marius Fourie/ Hendrik Pienaar (PHB BAT), Evan Hutchison/Danie Stassen (King Price Extreme BAT Viper) and Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse in their Live Lesotho Chenowth. They will be challenged by crews like Coetzee/ Sandra Labuscagne (4×4 Mega World Porter), John Thomson/ Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum), Lance Trethewey/ Geoff Minnitt (LTE BAT Venom), Naeem Moosajee/ Rayhaan Bodhanya (TyreRack Jimco), Lourens/ Carien Booysen (BAT) and Visser du Plessis/ Elvéne Coetzee (King Price Extreme Porter).
Class P should see a massive dice between Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) and Werner Kennedy/ Thinus Venter (Live Lesotho Aceco), with only one championship point between the two crews after three races this year.
Surprises could also be provided by John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Hellcat).
Race headquarters, the start/ finish and designated service park will be located at the Eeram Famers Complex with public entry to these areas free of charge.
There will also be free public entry to spectator points along the route. The qualifying race to determine grid positions will start at 2pm on Friday and the main race at 8am on Saturday.
The race will be run over two loops of approximately 200 kilometres with a compulsory 20-minute service halt and re-bunch after the first lap.
The event also includes round four of the Northern Regions and KwaZulu-Natal regional championships.
Cross-country enthusiasts can follow the event on the RallySafe app, which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android systems.
The app is user friendly and enthusiasts can follow the race via maps which chart the progress of each car with split and overall times.