2 minute read
7 Aug 2013
12:00 pm

Cross country racing goes back to its roots

The Donaldson Cross Country Championship will return to its roots on the Vryburg 400, round six of the national series, in North West Province on September 6 and 7.

LEGEND: The legendary Apie Reyneke and Robin Houghton in action in days gone by. Picture: Motorpics.co.za

The event replaces a proposed return to Lesotho and is being organised by the South African National Off Road Racing Association (SANORA) in conjunction with the Vryburg Motor Club. The Vryburg area has a rich cross country racing heritage with the Toyota 1000 Desert Race run in the area between 1981 and 1990 when it moved to Botswana.

The area has also produced some of the most successful cross country racing drivers in the history of the sport, including the legendary Apie Reyneke and Andre Kock who is assistant route director on this year’s event. Kock won the 1988 Toyota Desert Race with Koos Coetzee in a Toyota Land Cruiser.

The last Desert Race in the Vryburg area in 1990 was won by SANORA president Richard Schilling who shared a Chenowth with Fred Levesque.

In those days Special Vehicle and Production Vehicle cars lacked most of the technology found on today’s vehicles, racing started before dawn and there were no qualifying races to determine grid positions. After the first day of a race crews had limited time to work on cars before they went into impound – from which they were released only an hour before the start of racing.

Route director Adri Roets and Kock, who knows the area like the back of his hand, are in the final stages of plotting a course that will provide competitors with a stern challenge. Qualifying will be run over a 60 kilometre route with the race made up of two 180 kilometre loops to the northwest and west of Vryburg.

A return to Vryburg has also captured the imagination of cross country competitors with an entry of around 65 cars expected. There are also indications that the event could attract a number of local and overseas teams entered for next year’s Dakar Rally in South America.

“For the older generation still involved with cross country racing the return to Vryburg will bring back happy memories,” said Schilling.

“The sport and the machinery have obviously evolved with the times, but areas like Vryburg, Taylor’s Pan and Barberspan are very much part of the history of cross country racing in this country.

“The possibility of international teams using the event as a Dakar Rally shakedown is also exciting.”