The fight for national titles in the Special Vehicle Category of the South African Rally-Raid Championship are not over yet and the Parys 400 that takes place on 11 and 12 November, will present competitors with the final two chances to earn valuable points towards the overall and class championships.
A compact but quality field will gather at the Parys Airfield from where rounds six and seven will challenge the teams over two days and a total of almost 700 kilometres, and those with nerves of steel who can keep it together under testing conditions, will most probably be the ones who will leave the Free State with a smile.
Former champions, Tim Howes and Gary Campbell (Timdrew Property Developments BAT Spec 4) have deservingly secured the overall title, with results that include three race victories. They are, however, not out of the woods regarding the Class A title, as Lood du Preez/Chris Visser Jnr (Farmers Meat Stryker) are close enough to overtake them should they put a wheel wrong.
And while Du Preez/Visser Jnr will be chasing Howes/Campbell, they will have to keep an eye on Trace Price Moor/Shaun Braithwaite (Tip Top Milk BAT Venom) who will travel to Parys lying third in Class A, and a chance to finish the season as the runners-up. Good results could see Team Labuscagne-Jonck/Jonck, Sandra and Jaco (KEC Racing BAT Viper) move up in the standings, while the first points of the season will be a perfect way for LC de Jager/Rikus Hattingh (BAT Spec 2) to see the season out. Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser will make their SARRC debut in a BAT Spec 2 and might spring a surprise on the regulars.
Consistency is usually the name of the game and it has been exactly what the Mostert father and son duo of Werner and Ian (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) have been up to in Class G. It will be a busy weekend for the team who would like to keep their runner-up position in the overall standings, although they will have their hands full with Class A teams Du Preez/Visser Jnr and Price Moor/Braithwaite chasing them. And as the leaders in Class G, they will have to fend off Geoff Minnitt/Gerhard Snyman (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) who have two race wins behind their names, but could not finish the fifth round.
Minnitt/Snyman will have their own share of pressure to deal with as they are in a position to close the points’ gap to the Mostert’s in Class G while they can even jump a few places from their current fifth place in the overall standings to finish the season on the podium.
Good points can also result in a few more Class G teams to move up on the overall leader-board, while the current order in the Class G championship can easily change depending on the outcome of the two races. Glen Theron/Craig Galvin (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) are currently rounding off the podium, but they will be chased by Francois de Wit/Ewald van Rensburg (Can-Am Maverick) who are only three points behind in fourth place as well as the outgoing champions, Cecil and Elardus Larney (Can-Am Maverick) who are a further eight points back.
In Class P, Quentin Lessing/Noel Acton (Century CR-T) are the 2022 champions and they will be up against Grant Watkins, who will be making a welcome comeback after not competing for a few years with Mark Irvine reading him the notes in the Zarco.
On Friday, the Parys 400 will get underway at 07:30 when a 12 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race to determine the starting positions for the first of the two 153 kilometre loops. The Start/Finish as well as the Designated Service Park (DSP) and Race Headquarters will be situated at the Parys Airfield from where Loop One will start at 09:30. After completion of the loop, teams will return to the DSP for a 30 minute service break before taking on the loop again.
The final round of the 2022 season will start at 07:30 on Saturday with the results of the 12 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race determining the starting order. As per Round Six, the leading ten teams will draw their positions for the line-up of the first of the two 172 kilometre loops with the action starting at 09:30. Competitors will have a 30 minute break after the first loop with the podium formalities taking place at the Parys Airfield after they have completed the loop again.
The racing action can be viewed from vantage points along the route while spectators can also get up close to the action at the DSP. The Parys 400 can also be followed on the RallySafe App that is available as a free download on the App Store or Google Play Store.
Images: Andre Schoeman