JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – The Bronkhorstspruit 400, Round 2 of the South African National Cross Country championship raced over August 14/15 after a wait of almost five and a half months due to the Chinese Flu, produced a hat trick for the winners and great results for teams in the Production and Special Vehicle categories.
It will also, unfortunately, be a return to the drawing board for a few teams before the third round of the shortened 2020 season.
Going off the edge of a dam wall with the vehicle dangling in the air and a puncture during the race on Saturday didn’t stop overall Production Vehicle Category and FIA Class winners, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux) from winning the event – their second success of the season.
It was also a hat trick of victories for Lategan: he won this event in 2018 with former navigator Barry White. They were 2min46 ahead of Chris Visser/Danie Stassen (Toyota Hilux) who lost time with a flat tyre.
The first nine Production Vehicle teams competed in the FIA Class with Toyota claiming the overall podium when Giniel de Villiers and substitute navigator Juan Möhr (Toyota Hilux) finished third, 100 seconds behind Visser/Stassen.
De Villiers/Möhr started third behind Visser/Stassen with their team mates with Lategan/Cummings leading. De Villiers/Möhr wrong-slotted but chased hard to catch Visser/Stassen with a flat – then another 40km before the finish cost them more time.
Former motorcycle champion Brian Baragwanath teamed up with female biker Taye Perry (who finished the 2020 Dakar Rally in the motorcycle category) delivered a star performance in the Century Racing CR6 to claim fourth. They posted the fastest time on the second of the two 150km loops and finished only 40sec behind De Villiers/Möhr after starting ninth on Saturday morning.
The third Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team (Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy) rounded off the top five when they finished 04min14 behind the two-wheel drive vehicle of Baragwanath/Perry. The two Ford Castrol Cross Country Rangers (Woolridge brothers, Gareth and Lance) took sixth and seventh places only 47sec apart.
TIME ON THE BEACH
Gareth/Boyd Dreyer, in their debut FIA Class after being out of action for 14 months, lost time beaching their Ford Ranger in soft sand at a road crossing while Lance/Elvéne Vonk lost time with a broken front suspension spring.
Gareth/Dreyer trailed Variawa/Murphy by 01min19 and 28sec ahead of Clint Weston/Gerhard Snyman (Schalk Burger Motorsport King Price Xtreme) who had an eventful race: they rolled two kilometres from the flag.
Weston/Snyman were followed in the Production Vehicle Category by the Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara of Ernest Roberts/Henry Köhne and Terence Marsh/Letshego Zulu. Roberts/Köhne could not complete qualifying on Friday due to mechanical problems and they started the main race towards the back of the field from where they had a clean run except for a puncture early into the second loop.
Marsh/Zulu also started towards the back of the field after Marsh, who competed quali with stand-in navigator Wade Harris, incurred a time-penalty. A steady run saw the team win Class T and round-off the Production Vehicle top 10.
Johan and son Sean van Staden (Elf Renault DE Duster) got off to a good start but lost 35 minutes when an unsealed crank sensor got wet. They had to jack the vehicle to get to the sensor but because the vehicle could not start the jack did not work.
They were last home in the category but happy to have bagged some points.
The race took its toll and there was disappointment for three Class T teams and the Fourie couple, Marius and Jolinda in an FIA Class Ford Ranger – and oil pipe broke 87km into the first loop.
The two leading Class T teams were hard-hit and had to return from Bronkhorstspruit empty handed. Lady Luck turned her back on Johan/Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) who were fastest in Class T after quali but a wheel broke off during the first loop and forced them to limp home with the wheel only held on by two studs,.
They then broke front and rear prop shafts within two kilometres of each other with only three kilometres to the finish. Their rivals, Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Total Excellium Toyota Hilux) were the second Class T team on the road but they were forced to retire early with a broken diff.
FIRST WIN FOR HOWES
Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen (Neil Woolridge Ford Ranger) have had better days: their problems included a flat and a broken rear suspension.
In the Special Vehicle category, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (Zarco Magnum) claimed their first overall and Class A victory this season when they beat the Jonck couple, Sandra and Jaco (Total Agri Porter) by just over eight minutes. The Joncks lost time with mechanical issues but were happy with their first podium ofe season.
André Fourie/Hendrikus Pienaar (BAT Spec 3) failed to finish.
After a time-penalty in qualifying that saw them starting towards the back of the field, defending Class G Side-by-Side champions Werner and Leon Mostert (Elf Renault Can-Am Maverick) fought back to win the class despite their SxS going into limp mode during the first 150km loop.
They rounded off the Special Vehicle Category podium.
They were followed by Peter Walter/Shaun de Villiers (Can-Am Maverick), fourth overall and second in class after a problem-free race; Nico du Rand/Rikus Hattingh, also in a Can-Am Maverick, rounded off the Class G podium to finish fifth in category.
LAST MAN HOME
Adventurous track-racer Simon Murray, who tackled SACCS for the first time and missed qualifying as he was unwell, will remember his first event next to navigator Achim Bergmann (Total Excellium Can-Am Maverick) not only for the two flat tyres but also for rolling their SxS.
They were sixth in category; Hanno Bierman/Pieter de Beer (Can-Am Maverick) were in the last vehicle home. Kent Rutherford/Gerhard Schutte (Red-Lined Motorsport Maverick) had engine problems, as did opening-round winners Dean Bradbury/Timmy Botes (Canon Rotex) who failed to finish.
The third round of the 2020 season, the Nampo 400, will be over September 18/19 in the Bothaville area.