Dry, dusty conditions, a tough test for navigators and a new overall race winning team typified the weekend’s Atlas Copco 400 event, round four of the 2018 South African Cross Country Series.
Run around Bronkhorstspruit, the race was won overall by Henk Lategan and Barry White in their Toyota Gazoo Hilux bakkie – youngster Lategan’s first outright victory in a national off-road event.
Second, following Lategan and White in the FIA category, were Chris Visser/Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux).
They were chased to the flag by Class T winners Gary Bertholdt/ Geoff Minnitt in their Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, and Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer (NWM Ford Ranger).
Werner/Johan Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) took the fifth place, a solitary second ahead of Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Elf Renault DE Duster), after 380km of racing.
Seventh were Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (NWM Ford Ranger), leading home Terence Marsh and Dakar Rally motorcycle hero Joey Evans (Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara).
Brazilian cross country champions, Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea (Ford NWM Ranger) finished ninth overall, with Jacques van Tonder/Sammy Redelinghuys (Ford Ranger) rounding out the top 10 places.
There were disappointments for overall championship leaders, Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota Gazoo Hilux).
They started the race in seventh place after losing time with a flat tyre during Friday’s qualifying event.
After charging behind the leaders, the pairing first suffered a flat tyre, and then retired when an alternator belt came off.
The Class S winners, David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (Nissan Navara) finished just outside the top 10 with the rest of the Class S podium consisting of Jannie/ Chris Visser (Toyota Hilux) and Rory Eland/Robbie Coetzee (Ford Ranger).
Racing behind the production vehicles, the special vehicle crews were faced with extremely dusty conditions, which made life hard for navigators, who found it difficult to spot route markers.
In the end it was Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse (Live Lesotho Chenowth) who claimed the overall victory.
They were followed by John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT Warbird) and Werner Kennedy/CJ van Pletzen (Live Lesotho Porter).
Despite suffering with brake problems and fuel starvation, championship leaders Coetzee Labuscagne/Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck (4×4 Mega World ARB Porter) finished fourth overall.
In fifth place, Nic Goslar/Joe Lima (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) was the only Class P entry to finish.
Some of the casualties of the Bronkhorstspruit event included John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger), who suffered a broken gearbox; Schalk Burger/Elvene Vonk (Porter); Zaheer/Lais Bodhanya (Jimco); Talha/Taahir Moosajee (Stryker); and Guy Henley/Hein Möhr (CR2).
The Side x Side Interprovincial Challenge was won by newcomers Ernest Roberts/Stuart Creevy (Can-Am Maverick), with Werner Mostert/Rob Green (Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS) second.
The fifth, penultimate round of the SACCS championship is at Eeram Farmers Complex Harrismith on September 14 and 15.