A new class, changes to existing regulations plus an international presence will add up to an exciting start for the RFS Endurance, the opening round of the 2016 Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in Vryburg this weekend.
The new Production Vehicle FIA Class allows teams in the Donaldson series to run cars to FIA specifications that apply to the Cross Country Rally World Cup and the Dakar Rally.
Apart from allowing local teams to develop Dakar Rally cars throughout the season, the category opens the way for international teams to compete in South Africa. It has borne immediate fruit with two Brazilian drivers joining the fray at the RFS Endurance Race.
Beco Andreotti and Kleber Cincea will both drive locally built Ford Rangers, accompanied by South African brothers Cristian and Marcos Baumgart. They will face reigning South African champions Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie (Gazoo Toyota Hilux), Anthony Taylor/ Dennis Murphy (Gazoo Toyota Hilux) and Terence Marsh/ Marius Roberts (RedLined Nissan Navara).
Leading Class T will be the two Ford Performance Rangers of Chris Visser/ Ward Huxtable and Gareth Woolridge/ Boyd Dreyer. They will face opposition from the Red Lined Nissan Navaras of Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson and Luke Botha/Andre Vermeulen, Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), Johan/ Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) and Deon Venter/Jaco van Aardt (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux).
Two turbocharged Audi-engined VW Amarok entries will be in the hands of Christiaan du Plooy/ Henk Janse van Vuuren and Atlas Copco’s Gary Bertholdt/ Pierre Arries.
Topping the Special Vehicle entry will be Evan Hutchison/ Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT), challenged by Australian racer Dave McShane, who will join local navigator Leander Pienaar in a Fox BAT.
Quintin and Kallie Sullwald will return in a second Motorite BAT, with other teams to watch Marius/ Jolinda Fourie (BAT), Andre Fourie/ Hendrik Pienaar (BAT), Keith du Toit/ Robbie Coetzee (White Star BAT), Jimmy Zahos/Zaheer Bodhanya (Cobalt Stryker) and Sarel van Biljon/ Phillip Herselman (Atlas Copco BAT).
In Class P John Thomson/ Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Magnum) will start as favourites, challenged by Nic Goslar/Andrew Massey (SA Clinics Zarco), John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite Tanks Hellcat) and Willem du Toit/ Bertus Goussard (CR-T).
Friday’s qualifying will be run over a 190 kilometre route, with Saturday’s race made up of two loops of 245 kilometres. There will be a compulsory 20 minute service halt at the end of the first racing loop.
The RFS Endurance race will coincide with the opening round of the 2016 SA Cross Country Motorcycle and Quad Championship. In the Open Class motorcycle category, current champion Kenny Gilbert will defend his title on a Kargo Husqvarna.
He will be challenged by people like Ross Branch (Brother KTM), Michael Pentecost (Bidvest Yamaha), Wade Blaauw (Yamaha) and Charan Moore (Super Moose Yamaha).
In the quad category, Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha), who finished third in the Dakar Rally earlier this year, George Twigge (Yamaha), Ted Barbier (Yamaha), Stefan Swanepoel (Yamaha) and John-John Aylward (Yamaha) should fight for the podium places.
The Vryburg event will start on Friday, with a 50 km time-trial to determine start positions for Saturday’s race. On Saturday, riders will have to complete a 150 km loop twice.
Race headquarters for all categories, the start/finish and the designated service park will be located at the Vryburg Motor Club.
Spectators can follow the action along the routes for cars, motorcycles and quads and public access to these spectator points will be free.