Motorsport Correspondent
2 minute read
2 Mar 2020
3:59 pm

Drenched Cross Country series opener bites hard

Motorsport Correspondent

Muddy, wet and misty conditions took a heavy toll on the Special Vehicle contingent.

WET, WET, WET. Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings survived incredibly tough conditions to win the weekend’s race in their Gazoo Toyota Hilux. Pictures: Nadia Jordaan

Bad weather and a tough route tested crews and cars to the full in the weekend’s Mpumalanga 400, the opening round of the 2020 South African National Cross Country Series around Dullstroom.

The conditions, with almost endless rain, deep mud and thick mist over much of the route, were best survived by defending Production Vehicle champions Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings in their Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux. They led the race from beginning to end, finishing two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, in their identical Gazoo Hilux. Third, another two minutes adrift, were Lance Woolridge/ Elvéne Vonk (Ford Castrol Ranger). They led home Chris Visser/Danie Stassen (Total Excellium Toyota Hilux) and Brian Baragwanath/Juan Möhr (Century Racing CR 6).

Sixth, clinching the Class T victory in the process, were Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux), followed by Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Total Excellium Toyota Hilux), Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen (Neil Woolridge Motosport Ford Ranger), Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy (Gazoo Toyota Hilux) and Thilo Himmel/Gerhard Schutte (King Price Xtreme Nissan Navara).

OLD-TIMERS RULE. The experienced crew of Clint Gibson and Alaric Smith (Dirt Sport Components Stryker) won the Special Vehicle category overall.

The muddy, wet and misty conditions took a heavy toll on the Special Vehicle contingent, who, not blessed with windscreens, got closely involved with a lot of Mpumalanga upper soil. This made racing a bit of a lottery, with many crews destined to hit hidden rocks, tree stumps and ditches.

In the end, the highly experienced crew of Clint Gibson and navigator Alaric Smith (Dirt Sport Components Stryker) led the field home, to take both the overall and Class A victories. Second, after a smooth, careful and consistent run, were newcomer driver Tim Howes and experienced navigator Gary Campbell (Zarco Magnum).

Third overall, winning the Class G category for Side x Side vehicles in the process, were Dean Bradbury/Timmy Botes (Canon Rotax). They were followed to the finish line by Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick), Nico du Rand/Rickus Hattingh (Can-Am Maverick), plus Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck and husband Jaco Jonck in their Class A Total Agri Porter. The seventh and final team to reach the finish, were father and son Archie and Kent Rutherford in their Red-Lined Can-Am Maverick.

The next round of the 2020 South African National Cross Country Series will be the Sugarbelt 400 race, scheduled to take place on 3 and 4 April through the Eston area in KwaZulu-Natal.

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