The South African Cross Country Championship will, in many ways, present a fresh face when the 2020 series opens in Mpumalanga at the end of this month.
New venues, rules and regulations will add up to an exciting start to a new decade for the championship, which last year consistently attracted good fields. And, with the trend likely to be unchanged, both the Production Vehicle and Special Vehicle championships should again be highly competitive.
Three new events will debut on the calendar this year. They will take place in the KwaZulu-Natal Easton and Mid-Illovo area, plus Clarens and Bothaville in the Free State. Cross-country Championship Series (SACCS) chief executive officer Archie Rutherford said: “We are delighted to see cross-country racing break into new territory. Last season saw the introduction of two new events which turned out to be great successes, and we are confident this year’s debut events will be equally well received.”
The season will start on 28 and 29 February with the 2018 award-winning Mpumalanga 400 in Dullstroom. The event will again be supported by Malalane Toyota. On 3 and 4 April the championship will return to the Easton/Mid-Illovo area in KwaZulu-Natal for the history-steeped Sugarbelt 400, following a hiatus of five years. The next new event will be the Clarens 400 on 22 and 23 May, in the foothills of the majestic Maluti Mountains.
One of the longest-running sponsorships in South African motorsports will continue, with the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, this year celebrating its 29th anniversary. The race, from 26 to 28 June in Selebi Phikwe, will again be the only marathon event on the calendar. It enjoys the unparalleled support of the Botswana government, Botswana Tourism Organisation, Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit and the Selebi Phikwe Town Council.
In the latter half of the season the action moves to Gauteng for the Bronkhorstspruit 400 on 14 and 15 August. The next new event sees crews heading for Bothaville in the Free State and the Nampo 400 on 18 and 19 September. The final event on the 2020 calendar will see a return to Parys on the banks of the Vaal River on 23 and 24 October. I
n another new development, SACCS has employed the services of multiple South African champion Evan Hutchison as route director. Hutchison comes with a wealth of motorsports knowledge and experience which spans many years and includes motorcycle racing, rallying and cross country.
This year will also see changes to the Toyota 1000 Desert Race’s points-scoring format. In a significant development, SACCS has decided to combine the Side x Side category with the Special Vehicle category. The move is aimed at creating a stable platform for the Special Vehicle Championship and providing growth through the SSV internationally recognised platform of motorsports.
Class A will cater for two-wheel drive vehicles with standard engines not exceeding 6 300 cc, with no suspension or chassis restrictions. Class P will cater for two-wheel drive vehicles with normally aspirated six cylinder petrol engines no larger than four litres, with no suspension or chassis restrictions. Class G will cater for the four-wheel drive recreational vehicles with standard original manufacturers’ normally aspirated or turbo petrol or diesel engines.
“The Side x Side category adds another string to our bow,” said Rutherford. “The championship ran as a stand-alone in 2019 and proved popular with competitors and spectators alike.”