With the dust now settled on the extremely fast and tough Parys 400 double-header on 18 and 19 August, crews in the Special Vehicle Category will need to consolidate their strategies for the remaining two events of the 2023 SA-Rally-Raid Championship.
In the Overall Championship, defending champions Tim Howes and Gary Campbell (BAT Spec4) retain their almost unassailable lead with a tally of 131 points, a whopping 41 points clear of their nearest rival Geoff Minnitt (HPE Can-Am Maverick) (90), and Glen Theron (Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick) in third place a further 12 points adrift. Their respective navigators occupy third and second in the Navigators’ Championship level pegging on 78 points.
Former Dakar Rally navigator, Rodney Burke sat next to the charismatic Minnitt for the past three rounds, while second placed Craig Galvin (Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick) accompanied Glenn Theron as his regular navigator.
Ian and Werner (Moto-Netix Can-Am Maverick) occupy the fourth spot with 71 points, while the Class A pairing of Johan Thompson and Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger), who missed the opening round of the season, round out the top five, a slender one point in arrears.
Behind them there is a bit more breathing space with the top ten in the championship rounded out by Ewald van Rensburg/Johan Scheepers (50 points) Can-Am Maverick, Lood du Preez (Farmers’ Meat Stryker) accumulating 36 points, Quentin Lessing/Brendon Smith in the ageing CRT (31), Trace Price Moor/Gareth Aiston (BAT Venom) (30) and Francois de Wit (Can-Am Maverick) clocking up 24 points.
Du Preez and de Wit, paired with two different navigators during the season with Nick van Zyl and Junior Vardy accompanying Du Preez and Pierre Jordaan and Neil de Wit alongside Francois, falling outside the top ten in the Navigators’ Championship.
In the class championships a similar gist is evident, with reigning champions Howes/Campbell (BAT Spec 4), who were victorious in rounds four and five of the Parys 400 double-header, dominating Class A with 127 points. Thomson and Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) on 90 points finished third in round four but were sidelined by a coming together with Howes/Campbell in round four, but due to unforeseen damage, were unable to see out the distance in round five.
Lood du Preez (Farmers Meat Styker) (64 points) who did not enter the double-header in Parys is 26 points in arrears, while and Trace Price Moor and Gareth Aiston (BAT Venom) 35 points only competed in the Sugarbelt 400, are third and fourth respectively.
Eugene Bierman and Pieter Visser (33) also sat out the Parys 400, brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete (32) only competed in round five of the SA Rally-Raid Championship and LC de Jager/Rikus Hattingh (22), after a lengthy absence from the championship finished round four in Parys but failed to finish round five, round off the top seven in Class A.
In Class G runaway leader Geoff Minnitt has won all four races entered this season amassing 134 points with navigator Burke alongside him for three of these adventures is third on 106 points. Glen Theron and Craig Calvin who have successfully finished all five rounds of the championship are second and first respectively in the Drivers’ and Navigators’ championships with 125 reflecting on their score sheets.
Rookie Ian Mostert currently occupies third spot in the Drivers’ Championship with 122 points, while dad Werner is second in the Navigators’ Championship also on 122 points, curtesy of navigator changes.
The top five in the championship are rounded off by Ewald van Rensburg and Johan Schepers with 92 points and Francois de Wit with 59 points versus his navigator Neil de Wit with 54 points.
The Parys 400 double-header attracted no Class P entries so it is status quo for Quentin Lessing/Bredon Smith (32) who have only entered one event so far this season.
There is a lot of work to be done for those playing catch-up and with only two rounds remaining the pressure will be on to put the best foot forward.
The next event on the calendar, the inaugural Renergen 400 at Phakisa Raceway on 6 and 7 October, will deliver an equal playing field for all.
Images: Plan C Productions