Nkomazi 400 2024: Exciting start to 2024 SA Rally-Raid season with the #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Nkomazi in Malane

The 2024 SA Rally-Raid Championship might have kicked off somewhat later than usual with the first round of the season, the #TeamHiluxRally-Raid Nkomazi taking place on 19 and 20 April in the Malalane area in Mpumalanga, but it will all be worth the wait. With South African competitors and vehicle manufacturers playing major roles in the rally-raid scene globally and the World Rally-Raid Championship, which started with the Dakar Rally in January in Saudi-Arabia, various competitors have been competing elsewhere, but locally the action will be tangible from the opening round until the end of the seventh round in November.

Like last year, the #TeamHiluxRally-Raid Nkomazi will be the opening event on the calendar and it will also be the first race where a few changes to the SARRC will be put in place for the first time. One of these changes is the abolishment of the Production and Special Vehicle Categories with all vehicles and teams now competing for overall victory in respective classes. These classes are Ultimate T1+ which includes 4x2 vehicles; Adventurer T1; Challenger for vehicles that previously competed in Classes A, P and T and the SSV Class.

The SARRC is also privileged to welcome Castrol as the sponsor of the Qualifying Race. Throughout the season, teams will start the Castrol Qualifying Race at each event in accordance with the seeding system that will determine the starting order for the main race.

The season kicks off on a high note with the #TeamHiluxRally-Raid Nkomazi being a Super Event, which does not only mean more racing kilometres for the competing teams, but also more racing action for the spectators.

On Friday, the 11 kilometre Castrol Qualifying Race will start at 10:00 and will be followed by Loop One on Friday afternoon. For the 11 kilometre Castrol Qualifying race, teams will take on a new section of terrain consisting of tight and fast tracks in the sugarcane fields adjacent to the Designated Service Point (DSP) at the Nkomazi Fuel and Gas Depot, where the Start/Finish as well as Race Headquarters will also be situated.

For Loop One, the SSV competitors will open the road followed by the top 10 teams who will draw for their starting positions with the remainder of the field starting in the position they earned in the Castrol Qualifying race.

The anticipated action will be taken to the next level as competitors will be met with virgin terrain not used for the event last year. After the Ceremonial Start at 13:00 at the Nkomazi Fuel and Gas depot, teams will complete a nine (9) kilometre liaison to the start of the first section of Loop One. This section will comprise 41 kilometres of tight and technical bush tracks on a game farm before they enter a 15 kilometre neutralisation zone en-route to the start of the second section of the loop. Here 27 kilometres of more tight and technical bush tracks as well as a short stint in a riverbed with thick sand on another game farm awaits them. A 22 kilometre liaison section will then lead them back to the DSP and the finish of day one.

The results after the racing sections on Friday will determine the starting order for Saturday when competitors take on two loops of 173 kilometres each with the leading vehicle starting at 08:00. Teams might recognise this loop from last year although some of the changes include the route running in a clockwise direction while more technical tracks are also on the menu.

For the 2024 edition of the #TeamHiluxRally-Raid Nkomazi, the loop will start with rocky tracks in the mountains towards Malelane Stene in a southernly direction, from where teams will work their way towards the mountain forests towards the Swaziland border and Lows Creek before returning to DSP via the sugarcane fields in close proximity to the Nkomazi Toll Gate. Teams will cross the Kaalrug Road and will encounter even more tight sugarcane tracks as well as sections of the canal road while making their way back to the DSP.

After a 30-minute compulsory service stop, competitors will exit the DSP according to the positions they finished Loop Two. They will then take on the same loop before finishing at DSP where the podium ceremonies will take place.

The SA Rally-Raid fraternity would like to pay tribute to the late Johan Horn Sr, businessman and owner of Malalane Toyota who was the driving force behind Cross Country and Rally-Raid racing in Mpumalanga with the inaugural 2013 Nkomazi 400 in Malalane.

SA Rally-Raid, the organisers, and all the other role-players are confident that the event will be thoroughly enjoyed by both the SA Rally-Raid teams as well as the enthusiasts who can view the action from various vantage points along the route, meet their racing heroes in DSP while having a chance to get a closer peek at these awesome racing machines.
All the action will happen from the Nkomazi Fuel and Gas Depot on the R507 on the outskirts of Malalane where the local community will have mouth-watering treats available while there will also be a shaded beer garden and entertainment for the kids.


Source: Rally-Raid Championship
Images: Plan C Productions