Exhilarating changes to the 2022 championships

The FIA Class has grown exponentially over the past two seasons with a staggering number of 22 potential entries expected on the starting grid at the season opener, the Mpumalanga 400 that takes place in the Dullstroom area on March 25th and 26th.

The 2022 international motorsport season kicked off to an epic start on 1 January with the running of the 44th Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia with no less than nine South African teams amongst the hundred odd teams competing in the Car Category while the event also saw the launch of the inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.

Toyota Gazoo Racing returned home from this punishing event as the overall victors and added a second victory to their first in 2019. All four their vehicles, crewed by the overall winners, Nasser Al-Attiya/Mathew Baumel as well as local teams, Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy; Shameer Variawa/Danie Stassen and Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, finished in the top 20 in the FIA T1.1+ Class for 4×4 petrol or diesel engine vehicles. The South African built Red-Lined VK56, prepared by WCT Engineering and piloted by Daniël Schröder and South African navigator, Ryan Bland, also finished in the top 20.

Variawa and Stassen.

In the FIA T1.2 class for 2×4 petrol or diesel engine vehicles, South African teams also showed their determination with four locally manufactured Century Racing CR6 vehicles completing this gruelling event. Brian Baragwanath/Leonard Cremer finished fifth; Chris Visser/Rodney Burke were 11th and rookies Ernest Roberts/Henry Köhne and Schalk Burger/Henk Janse van Rensburg were 17th and 28th respectively.

With the dust now settled on this awe-inspiring event and the country still extremely proud of the achievements by the local South African competitors and teams, the SA Cross Country Series (SACCS) is poised to build on the success of the 2021 national championship and has introduced some innovative thinking to maintain the momentum achieved over the past years.

Cecil and Elardus Larney.

To introduce the 2022 South African season, the championship will adopt the international reference of Rally-Raid and in future the championship will be known as the South African Rally-Raid Championship. The well-established and successful championship will still be administered and promoted by the South African National Cross Country Association NPC under the guidance of Chief Executive Officer, Archie Rutherford and his dedicated team.

The FIA Class has grown exponentially over the past two seasons with a staggering number of 22 potential entries expected on the starting grid at the season opener, the Mpumalanga 400 that takes place in the Dullstroom area on March 25th and 26th.

Roberts and Kohne.

Following amendments to the FIA T1.1 rules for the 2022 season, FIA T1.1+ now also makes provision for bigger 37-inch wheels vs. 32 inches with a larger tread width (320mm vs. 245mm) as well as increased suspension travel (from 280mm to 350mm). Internationally, however, the so called ‘big wheel’ brigade still competes in the same class as vehicles that have not opted for the amended rules which were primarily introduced to address the high puncture rate experienced in the 2021 Dakar Rally.

After consultation with the Technical Working Group of the SA Rally-Raid Championship, the decision was made to split the FIA Class into two separate classes. The Class FIA T1+ will cater for the new generation big wheel vehicles while the older generation vehicles with smaller wheels will compete in Class FIA T1.

Any competition is about winning and by splitting the classes, the SA Rally-Raid Championship is able to offer their stakeholders in both classes the opportunity to become champions by pitting their skills and strengths against fellow competitors with equal equipment.

Lance Woolridge and Elvene Vonk.

The FIA T1+ Class will cater for manufacturer and privateer teams currently competing in Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux DKR T1+ models; Neil Woolridge Motorsport 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost Ford Rangers and the race car constructor Century Racing’s CR 6 vehicles.

The FIA T1 Class will cater for the existing and well-established teams and privateers who have become synonymous with the championship over many years. Both classes, T1+ and T1, are expected to attract newcomers to the championship as the season progresses.

The 2022 SA Rally-Raid Championship will be made up of Class FIA T1+, Class FIA T1 and Class T in the Production Vehicle Category and Class A for two-wheel-drive vehicles and Class G for two- or four- wheel drive Side x Side (SxS) vehicles in the Special Vehicle category. Sporadic visits can also be expected from Class S and P competitors who wish to experience the action, excitement, and camaraderie of the SA Rally-Raid Championship.

The calendar for the 2022 season will see teams competing in five of the country’s provinces with the opening round, the Mpumalanga 400, taking place in the Dullstroom area on March 25th and 26th. It will be the fifth running of this popular event that was first hosted in 2018. The traditional Sugarbelt 400 will form round two of the series when competitors will travel to KwaZulu-Natal to return to the well-known Eston area on 29 and 30 April.

Malcolm and Frans Kock.

After an extremely successful desert race in 2021 in Upington, the event will again return to the Northern Cape where it will form the third round on 24, 25 and 26 June. Round four will take place at Bronkhorstspruit on the border of Gauteng on 19 and 20 August while the Free State will welcome all for the fifth and sixth rounds at Nampo Park on 30 September and 1 October and again on 12 November for the seventh and final round event at Parys.

Changes according to international regulations; a full calendar and the expectation of seeing new teams and vehicles in action combined with the welcome return of familiar faces and teams, all add to the promise of an exciting 2022 SA Rally-Raid Championship.

Source: SACCS / Photos: TGRSA & Nadia Jordaan  


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