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The South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) ended on a high note with the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Vaal 400 which took place on Saturday, 24 October at Parys in the Free State and while championship titles were clinched, there was disappointment for others after a day that formed the second of two demanding days of racing.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Vaal 400, the fifth and final round of a shortened season consisted of a 14km Pirelli Qualifying Race early in the morning to determine the starting order for the main race where teams had to complete a 168km loop twice. Hot, dusty and windy conditions added to the nerve-wrecking conditions and in the end, it was the newly crowned Production Vehicle Champions, Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux) who claimed their fourth overall victory of the season while they also walked away as the FIA Class winners. They finished in a total time of 3:17:57.

Their team-mates, Giniel de Villiers/Alex Haro, who competed together again for the first time since the Mpumalanga 400 in February this year, posted the fastest time after the Pirelli Qualifying Race and opened the road, but lost time when they encountered two closed gates while they also lost time with a flat tyre. They were eventually only two minutes and nine seconds behind the double champions. The overall and FIA Class podium was rounded off by Brian Baragwanath/Taye Perry (Century Racing CR6) who were only 40 seconds behind De Villiers/Haro after a cautious race.

The winners of the Ford Parys 400 on Friday, Chris Visser/Danie Stassen (Total Excellium Toyota Hilux), finished fourth overall and in the FIA Class (3:23:43) despite a flat tyre with Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger) rounding off the top five after a clean race, two minutes 11 seconds behind Visser/Stassen. They were followed by Shameer Variawa/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux) (3:30:22) and Ernest Roberts/Henry Köhne (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara) who were sixth and seventh overall and in the FIA Class respectively after both lost time with a flat tyre.

The Class T winners and the new Class T champions, Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) finished eighth overall after a few technical issues that included a faulty GPS. They were, however, only 20 seconds behind Roberts/Köhne and had two minutes 57 seconds on Clint Weston/Gerhard Snyman (King Price Xtreme Mercedes) who had a better outing than the previous day to round off their season with an eighth place in the FIA Class. The Fourie couple, Marius and Jolinda (Ford Ranger) also had a better final round to finish 10th overall and ninth in the FIA Class.

The Class T title battle was hard fought and the Fourie’s were followed by three Class T teams with Malcolm and son, Frans Kock (Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford Ranger) who stepped onto the second place of the Class T podium. Terence Marsh/Letshego Zulu (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara) had the ride of their lives starting from the back of the field after not being able to complete the Pirelli Qualifying Race. They rounded off the Class T podium with only 62 seconds separating them from the Kocks.

Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Total Excellium Toyota Hilux) also had to fight from the back after a problematic qualifier and they were fourth in Class T and 13th overall in the Production Vehicle Category.

Newcomers Philip Botha/Roelof Janse van Vuren (Penta Motor Group Nissan Navara) were 14th overall with Johan van Staden/Leander Pienaar (Elf Renault Duster) having to settle for 15th place overall, they lost more than an hour with a problematic jack. There was also some bad luck for Lance Woolridge/Elvéne Vonk (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger) who qualified fifth, but the left front suspension failed a mere four kilometres from the finish and they had to limp home.

There was also heartache in the Neil Woolridge Motorsport camp when Jacques van Tonder/Sammy Redelinghuys rolled their Ford Ranger while teammates, Wors Prinsloo/André Vermeulen, winners of the Ford Parys 400 on Friday could not see out the distance.


In the Special Vehicle Category, there were brand new winners with Boela Botes/Jay Pretorius (Schalk Burger Motorsport Porter), who competed the previous day in the fourth round for the first time after a break of nine years, taking the overall and Class A victories. They were, however, only three minutes 16 seconds ahead of Class P winners, Trace Price Moor/Shaun Braithwaite (BAT) with the winners of Class G for Side-by-Sides (SxS), Theo Erasmus/Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick) rounding off the overall podium.

After a consistent season that included two Special Vehicle Category and Class A victories and two runner-up results, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (Zarco) could not complete the race after an altercation with a rock, but despite losing the battle, they won the war as they clinched the 2020 overall and Class A titles.

The rough route added to the challenge for the Special Vehicle and SxS teams and all eyes were on the outcome and how it would affect the championship standings. Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT) posted the fastest qualifying time in the morning, but a flat tyre and mechanical issues resulted in them finishing second in Class A and fourth overall. They were closely followed by Nico du Rand/Rikus Hattingh (Can-Am Maverick SxS) who were fifth overall and second in Class G, but they are also the new SxS champions.

André Fourie/Hendrikus Pienaar (BAT) had the best outing of their season and finished sixth in the Special Vehicle Category and rounded off the Class A podium with the fastest SxS after the qualifier, Dean Bradbury/Dewald Els (Can-Am Maverick) seventh and the third SxS home. They were followed by the class winners of the fourth round, Simon Murray/Achim Bergmann (Total Excellium Can-Am Maverick SxS); Coenie Bezuidenhout/Jaco Schutte (Can-Am Maverick SxS); the outgoing SxS champions, Werner/Leon Mostert (Elf Renault Can-Am Maverick) and Christo Rose/Arno Olivier (Can-Am Maverick SxS).

There was disappointment for Team Total Agri SA Porter, Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck and husband, Jaco who experienced engine problems and had to call it a day after the first loop while Peter Walter/Shaun de Villiers and Hanno Bierman/Pieter de Beer, both competing with Can-Am Maverick SxS vehicles, could also not finish.

Source SACCS / Photos Nadia Jordaan

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