2 minute read
11 Nov 2013
9:00 am

Cross country blast from the past

A blast from the past and some interesting driver/co-driver combinations will add a little extra interest to the Atlas Copco Gold 400, the final event on the Donaldson Cross Country Championship calendar, in Westonaria on November 22 and 23.

FILE PIC. Ford Racing crew Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst share the Production Vehicle championship lead. Picture: Quickpic.

The race will decide the outcome of the Special Vehicle championship with a log jam at the top of the points ladder. The Production Vehicle category has already been settled in favour of Team Castrol Toyota Hilux pair Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy, but the runner-up spot still has to be decided, with second placed Ford Ranger crew Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst looking for their eighth podium finish in a row.

The blast from the past comes courtesy of former champion John Weir-Smith, who will be out in Porter with Richard Foyn doing the co-driving.

At his peak Weir-Smith was a colourful character who took no prisoners. It might take him a while to shake off the ring rust, but he could open a few eyes.

Also back in harness in Class A in the Special Vehicle category will be Mark Corbett and Martin Hermida (Century Racing CR 4), and Jimmy Zahos who will have a second outing this season in the Cobalt Racing Stryker. Zahos will be joined by Alan Smith who started the season co-driving for Class P title contender Colin Matthews in the Century Racing CR3.

Another prodigal son will return: Richard Fuller has bought the RFS BMW X3, formerly campaigned by Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren. Fuller is one of a handful of drivers to have won an event overall in a Class P car and will be making his debut in the Production Vehicle category.

He will be accompanied by rally specialist Andre Vermeulen who is no stranger to cross-country racing. The vastly experienced Vermeulen spent a season or two alongside Gary Bertholdt in an Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux.

There are also changes in the UniFreight Ford Ranger team. Team principal Kobus van Tonder will team up with daughter Lizelle, while son Jacques will share a second Ford Ranger with brother-in-law Freddie Kriel.

The factory Ford Racing team will use the event as a shake-down for next year’s Dakar Rally in South America. With Visser/Badenhorst involved in the fight for the runner-up spot in the Production Vehicle category, Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable will put the new Ford Ranger through its paces.

The event will incorporate the final round of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship and will be a final test outing for the new Side-by-Side class to be introduced into the championship next year. An interesting entry is motorcycle ace Darryl Curtis who will share a Polaris RZR900 with Riaan van Vuuren.

Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park will all be located at the Kloof Country Club in Glenharvie. Public access is free of charge.