With five rounds of an exhilarating 2022 season inscribed in the motorsport history books, the upcoming Parys 400, the final two rounds of the SA Rally-Raid Championship that takes place on 11 and 12 November, will be the cherry on top and determine the titles. These two one-day events will, however, test man and machine as well as the nerves of those who need to keep it all together over a total of almost 700 racing kilometres in the Free State, to reap the rewards.
On Friday, 11 November, the Parys 400 will form the sixth and penultimate round of the Production and Special Vehicle Championships with the seventh and final round taking place on Saturday, 12 November. All the action will happen from the Parys Airfield on the outskirts of Parys where the Race Headquarters as well as the Designated Service Park (DSP) and the Start/Finish of the two rounds will be situated.
Both rounds six and seven will consist of a 12 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race to determine the starting order for the first of two loops on each day. On Friday, the short qualifier will start at 07:30 at the airfield. The 10 teams who post the fastest times will then draw for their starting positions for the first of the two 165 kilometre loops in the order from 10th to first.
After the ceremonial start at 09:30 at the airfield, teams will continue past the entrance of the airfield to the start of the race at the shooting range. From here Loop 1 will take them in the direction of Sasolburg / Wolwehoek and although most teams have raced in the area before, this loop will present them with 40% new terrain as well as some technical and rocky sections.
According to Route Director, Rudi Muller, 70% of the loop will be fast, open tracks, but he has cautioned teams to race with care as it could catch them out. And if the heavens open, the black turf soil can become very tricky.
After completion of Loop 1, teams will return to the DSP for a 30 minute service break before setting off on the loop again. The finish and podium ceremonies will be at the Parys Airfield.
On Saturday, the same routine will ensue with the 12 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race starting at 07:30 at the airfield followed by a different 172 kilometre loop that will veer in the direction of Vredefort. The leading team will start Loop 1 at 09:30 from the airfield and can expect a loop that is mostly fast and open with 30% new tracks and some technical, rocky sections. Muller’s advice to competitors about this loop is that a laps of concentration could mean heartache.
Loop 2 will again continue after the 30 minute break at the DSP and competitors will have to keep their wits about them, and not ponder on the titles and champagne spraying ceremonies that await at the Parys Airfield that will round the season off.
Spectators are welcome at the airfield where the entry is free of charge with ample food and refreshments, provided by the local community, on sale. Enthusiasts can also follow the action from the various vantage points along the route while information about the Parys 400 will be available on the RallySafe App that can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store.
Images: Andre Schoeman