HIGH HOPES FOR NORTHERN REGIONS CROSS COUNTRY TITLE CONTENDERS
As is always the case at the start of a new season potential title contenders will be full of high expectation when the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship gets underway in Lichtenburg on February 8.
Established competitors will be sprinkled with an assortment of newcomers in both the Special and Production Vehicle championships. Everyone will be looking to make an early impression in what is likely to develop into a highly competitive season throughout the various classes.
Adding to the spectacle will be a number of national competitors who will take the opportunity to get in some pre-season testing. Among them will be Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson who will give their new Atlas Copco Nissan Navara, in which they hope to compete in next year’s Dakar Rally, its first public outing. Other national cars could include the BMW X3s of Willem Vos (Vossies Racing) , Richard Fuller (RFS) and the Maxxis/Liqui Moly/Rockstar entries led by North West province local Neil Meyer.
New SCC Lichtenburg chairman Miggie van der Linde said 80 percent of the route was completely new. Van der Linde said the route had a little bit of everything with predicted rain next week it could add to the fun.
Class B looks as though it will again shape up as a close fought class led by the likes of Atlas Copco Gold winner Francois Smith (Sandmaster) and wily old veteran Wolf-Peter Pfumfei, who is the reigning champion, in the WPP. They will come under attack from Kobus Fourie (WPP), Tinus le Roux/Gustav Pienaar in a Sandmaster, Johan Steyn and Gerhard Roos (Zarco) and Mitchell Meyer and father Mike in an ORCA. Also out in an ORCA for the first time will be the husband and wife combination of Ferdie and Janine van der Merwe.
Reigning Class P champions, veteran Giel Nel and Paul Slabbert (Portable Shade Zarco) will need to up their game if they are to win back to back titles. Their main challengers look likely to be Atlas Copco Gold winners Rikus Prinsloo/Lood Combrink, and the father/son combination of Tony and Michael Gouveia in a BAT. Johan and Jeremy Mitchell (Sandmaster) will also be looking for a solid start to the season. Newcomers to Class P are the husband/wife pair of Roelof and Marlise du Plessis. After a number of seasons in a production vehicle the pair will be out in one of the ex Adenco BAT entries that was campaigned in the Donaldson national championship. Also in the mix will be Clive and Shawn Sutherland (Aceco), Gerhard van der Linde and new co-driver Janco Rossouw in a Raceco, Andre Fourie and Leon Schutte (PHB Zarco) and brothers Dawid and Maarten van Jaarsveld who, after running in Class B last season, have bought the WPP Class P car. On paper Class P looks to be the most competitive class in the Northern Regions Championship. The Lichtenburg event will provide some indication of what lies ahead.
Among the Production Vehicles the Rustenburg based pair of Dana Vos and Hendrik de Kock (Vossies Racing Toyota Hilux) will start as firm favourites in Class D. Main opposition will be in the form of Paul Scheepers and Johan van Vuuren in a Nissan Hardbody.
Class E will see a resumption of the rivalry between Rob Reid and Bodo Schwegler, 2013 Production and Class championship winners, in the Mitsubishi Pajero that has a long history behind it, and Wessel and Berne Kriel in a Ford Ranger. They will be chased by the Toyota Hilux entries of Rudolph du Toit/Benjamin Sutherland and Theuns du Toit and Arnold Nortje, while Dewald Hattingh and Doep du Plessis will be hoping for a better season than last year.
In Class Z for club competitors Gert Steyn and Tanya Burger (Toyota Hilux) will have their eye on back to back titles, but Willie Welman and new co-driver Marius Fourie, in the Ford Bantam, could make life difficult for them. Jaco du Plessis and Louis Bester (Toyota Land Cruiser) will also be looking for a bright start to the season, with Alfred and Tommy van Vuuren out in a Ford F250 that has not been raced for a number of years.
Race headquarters will be at the Lichtenburg race circuit, and the qualifying race to determine grid positions will start at 09:00 on Saturday, 8 February and the race at 12:00. There are a number of spectator points along the route and entry to these areas is free of charge.