This weekend’s Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of the South African Cross Country Series in the North West, will have a very special attraction for South African off road racing enthusiasts.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion and Le Mans 24-Hour winner Fernando Alonso will be in attendance, driving a Gazoo Toyota Hilux. This is part of his intensive training programme for the Dakar Rally. Alonso’s presence will not interfere with the usual Production Vehicle championship contenders’ battle for superiority.
Fighting for overall and FIA Class victories will be title challengers like Gazoo Toyota Hilux crews Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings, Shameer Variawa/Juan Möhr and Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy.
Others to watch in the class will include Chris Visser/Danie Stassen (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux, plus the Red-Lined Nissan Navaras of Ernest Roberts/Henry Köhne, Richard Leeke/Zaheer Bodhanya and regular circuit racer Kishoor Pitamber, with Andre Vermeulen in the hot seat.
The King Price Extreme team will field Nissan Navaras for Schalk Burger/Elvene Vonk and Clint Weston/AN Other, while Johan van Staden will have his son, Sean, reading the notes in the Elf Renault Duster.
Heading up Class T will be defending champions, Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Ranger) challenged by people like Johan/Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux), Jacques van Tonder/Boyd Dreyer (Ford Ranger), Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea (Ford Castrol Ranger), Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux), Wors Prinsloo/ Sammy Redelinghuys (Ford Ranger), Jason Venter/Jaco van Aardt (4×4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) plus the Johnstone couple, Bernard and Minette (Toyota Hilux).
In Class S, David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (Hud Nissan Navara) have successfully defended their title, but will want to take another victory.
In the Special Vehicle category, overall and Class A leaders Lance Trethewey/Adriaan Roets (LT Earthmovers BAT Venom) will start as victory favourites. They will be chased by teams like the Moosajee brothers, Taahir and Talha (Dunlop Zone Stryker), John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger),plus Sandra Labuschagne-Jonck and husband, Jaco Jonck (Total Agri Porter).
In Class P championship leaders Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (Men’s Clinic Zarco Magnum) will face off against challengers like Julio Ferreira/Mohamed Moultson (Aceco). In the Side by Side National Championship the Mostert brothers, Werner and Leon (MotoNetix Can-Am Maverick), will be chased by Christo Rose/Dirk Swart (Can-Am Maverick) Dewald van Breda/Johann du Toit (Can-Am Maverick), Peter Walter/ Shaun de Villiers (Can-Am Maverick), Mohammed and Ridhwan Dada (Can-Am X3 RS) and Theo Erasmus/ Edward Odendaal (Can-Am Maverick).
The Lichtenburg 400 will start at 1pm on Friday, with a qualifying race to determine starting order for the actual race. On Saturday crews set off at 8am, to tackle the best part of a 400km route.
All the action will take place from Lichtenburg showgrounds where the service park, race headquarters and the start/finish will be. Enthusiasts can follow the race on the RallySafe App.