|Donaldson CC: Tough task for crews on Ford Dealer 400 in Thaba ´Nchu.|
There are no easy events on the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship" and the penultimate round of the championship, the "Ford Dealer 400" in Thaba ‘Nchu on October 11 and 12 could turn out to be one of the toughest of the season.
Both the Production Vehicle and Special Vehicle championships are delicately poised and provide a little extra impetus to an event that returns to the fringe of the Lesotho Mountains for the second time. Race headquarters and the designated service point will again be at the Black Mountain Hotel with the route running through the Moroka Game Reserve against a background of some spectacular scenery.
Last year’s event, the first in the area after of many years, provided route director Adri Roets with a number of headaches. Roets and his team had to start virtually from scratch in mapping out what turned into a tight and technical course.
It has been a little easier this time around and the route takes in about 70 percent of last year’s course. The remaining 30 percent is new terrain and with no winter rain in the Thaba ‘Nchu area the race is likely to be run in dry and dusty conditions.
“We have again had great co-operation from local authorities and landowners and it is once again a route that is going to provide teams with a real challenge,” said Roets. “The mountain section is going to be difficult and there are rocky sections with numerous wash ways.
“There are also areas where the route opens out but, by and large, it is again a typical Lesotho-type course that is tight and technical with some splendid scenery.”
The route is approximately 180 kilometres in length with the race to be run in two loops split by a compulsory 15 minute halt at the designated service point. The qualifying race will be run over a 60 kilometre section of the overall route and should provide for plenty of action with crews, particularly those with championship aspirations, desperate to come up with good starting positions.
On the championship front Toyota and Ford factory teams are locked in battle in the Production Vehicle championship with Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy (Castrol Toyota Hilux) taking into the race a 20 point advantage over Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the Ford ranger. It is even tighter in the Special vehicle category with KwaZulu-Natal crew Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Dirt Sport Components Porter) only 3.5 points clear of Hermann and Wichard Sullwald in the Elegant Fuel Stryker.
The Imperial Toyota Hilux pair of Giniel de Villiers and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz will also use the event as a test run for next year’s Dakar rally. The race will also see a number of crews in shakedown tests for the new Side by Side category to be introduced into next year’s Donaldson Cross Country Championship.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service point will all be located at the Black Mountain Hotel. Public access to these areas and to spectator viewing points along the route will be free of charge.
The qualifying race will start at 12:00 on Friday, October 11 and the race at 08:30 the next day. Spectator guides will be available at race headquarters with cross country racing enthusiasts encouraged to visit the pits and mingle with teams and crews.
2013/10/04 | 10:00 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE