Thick dust, a tough route, some unexpected winners and two clinched national titles punctuated the weekend’s Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of this year’s South African Cross Country Series through the North West Province.
The event was won overall by defending South African Production Vehicle champions Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy in their Toyota Gazoo Hilux. They finished just 10 seconds in front of Toyota Gazoo Hilux team mates Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, with Jason Venter/ Jaco van Aardt (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) third overall.
They were followed by Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Ranger), who clinched the season’s Class T title. Fifth were Richard Leeke Jr/Zaheer Bodhanya (Red-Lined Nissan Navara), followed closely by Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Chris Visser/Danie Stassen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) and the Brazilian team of Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea (Ford Castrol Ranger). Rounding out the top ten places were Jacques van Tonder/ Boyd Dreyer (Ford Ranger) and Shameer Variawa/Juan Möhr (Toyota Gazoo Hilux).
Double Formula One world champion and Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso tackled his very first off-road race, with multiple Dakar Rally motorcycle winner Marc Coma in the hot seat of the fourth Toyota Gazoo Hilux.
They did well during Friday’s qualifying loop, running in the top four places, but Alonso rolled the bakkie on Saturday morning, and, after repairs, spent the rest of the event just picking up off road racing experience.
The Special Vehicle victory went to John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Mormond Zarco Challenger), who blasted through the field from the back after retiring during Friday’s qualifying loop. Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT Venom) finished second, taking the year’s overall and Class A victories.
Julio Ferreira/Mohamed Moulson (Aceco) took the Class P victory and rounded out the overall podium. There were problems for the Moosajee brothers, Taahir and Talha (Dunlop Zone Stryker), who posted the quickest time during the qualifying loop.
They dropped out of Saturday’s race with technical maladies, as did the husband and wife pair Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck/Jaco Jonck (Total Agri Porter), with a broken gearbox. Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (Mens Clinic Zarco Magnum) were also victims as they dropped a cylinder at the start of Saturday’s second section.
The Side by Side victory went to Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal in their Can-Am Maverick, ahead of the similar vehicles of Dewald van Breda/Johann du Toit, Peter Walter/Pierre Jordaan, Ridhwan and Mohammed Dada (Can-Am X3 RS Turbo) and Christo Rose/ Dirk Swart. Championship leaders Werner and Leon Mostert (Moto Netix Can-Am Maverick) broke a sideshaft, fixed the vehicle and managed to finish, albeit last. The sixth and final round of the season will take place at Parys on November 1 and 2