The 2020 South African Cross Country Championship (SACCS) is ready for action, with the final touches being made to the season’s Mpumalanga 400 opener in the scenic Dullstroom and Belfast areas on 28 and 29 February.
The popular Mpumalanga 400, driven and supported by Johan Horn and the Malalane Toyota team, was chosen as the championship’s event of the year in 2018. The race brings spectacular action to the quaint little town that is not only a haven for fly-fishing enthusiasts but renowned for its incredible beauty and the perfect weekend or holiday break-away for Gauteng visitors.
As in previous years, race headquarters for the Mpumalanga 400, plus the start/finish and designated service point will be based at the Village Green cricket oval in Dullstroom. On Friday, 28 February the action will get under way at 1 pm when teams depart on a 65 km qualifying race to determine the starting order for the main race on Saturday.
On Saturday, 29 February the leading vehicle will leave the start line at the cricket oval at 8 am. Teams will have to complete the 165 km loop before a compulsory 30-minute service stop at the designated service point. They will then tackle the 165 km loop again at noon and complete the race back at the cricket oval.
According to the newly appointed route director, former multiple cross-country champion Evan Hutchison, the route is virtually the same as the previous year barring a few small changes. Hutchison and Adri Roets, who has been the SACCS route director since 2010 and will assist Hutchison with the first few events of the season, have been hard at work on the route while the area has also received good rains.
The Dullstroom area is known for its spectacular scenery and the recent rains have added even more greenery to welcome the teams, crews, supporters and spectators. Apart from the breath-taking scenery and roads that meander through the valleys, Dullstroom is also the highest town in the country.
As in the past, SACCS will join forces with local organisations such as the South African National Epilepsy League, the Hervormde Kerk and the Old Transvaal Inn which will provide refreshments at the designated service points throughout the weekend.
Meanwhile Drive Dullstroom’s Destiny, an organisation run and funded by property and business owners of the village who promote Dullstroom as a destination, will provide cleaning services at the event. Mayor TD Ngwenya will officially open the event at 12.30 pm before the action starts with the qualifying race on Friday.
Another tradition that will continue this season will be the charity initiative where 200 pairs of school shoes will be donated to children of various schools in the area. This year Emakhazeni Boarding School, Mpilonhle Primary School and Siyifunile Secondary School will benefit.
“SACCS is truly thankful to the landowners and local authorities who will welcome the Mpumalanga 400 event to the area for the third consecutive year,” Hutchison said. “Without their assistance and support, as well as the continued backing from Johan Horn and Malalane Toyota, the running of this popular cross-country event would not be possible.”
With Dullstroom just two hours’ drive from Gauteng and even less from Nelspruit, spectators and enthusiasts can easily be part of the action. Admission to the Village Green cricket oval will be free of charge as will entry to the various vantage points along the route on both Friday and Saturday.
Spectators will be able to meet their racing heroes, including teams who participated in the recent Dakar Rally, and to see their spectacular racing machines up close.