- The nervous 90’s for former champions Hutchison and Visser
Red-Lined Motorsport team principal Terence Marsh, a former professional cricketer, is 102 not out and top of the scoreboard when it comes to membership of an exclusive ‘100 Club’ in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS).
Marsh and former Blue Bulls scrum-half Coetzee Labuscagne are the only two current competitors who have competed in 100 or more events counting towards the SACCS championship between 2002 and 2017. Marsh, a former South African champion, leads Labuscagne by one event and both have competed in the Special Vehicle and Production Vehicle categories.
Continuing with cricket parlance former South African champions Chris Visser (97) and Evan Hutchison (96) are in the nervous 90’s along with Gary Bertholdt. Visser has one appearance as a navigator for brother Jannie, while Hutchison has spent his entire career in the Special Vehicle category.
Bertholdt had his 2017 campaign cut short when a fire destroyed the Atlas Copco VW Amarok on the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana. It is likely that Hutchison and Visser will this season join Marsh and Labuscagne in the ‘100 Club’ while Bertholdt will miss out.
The SACCS season kicks off on March 16 and 17 with the Mpumalanga 400, in Dullstroom, one of six events on the calendar. Even if Bertholdt enters every event this season he will be left hanging on 99 not out.
In real terms Marsh and Labuscagne will have covered around 50 000 kilometres of cross country racing. Events in the SACCS championship, generally regarded as the toughest domestic competition in world motorsport, have been held throughout South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana in all types of terrain and conditions.
“Competitors who have competed in landmark 50 to 100 events in what is a demanding sport deserve recognition and high praise,” said Archie Rutherford, chief executive officer of SACCS. “The effort and sacrifice by teams and competitors that accompanies these achievements shows huge determination and a will to succeed.
“It is also testimony to the resilience our sport, the competitors and cross country enthusiasts have shown down the years and ‘100 Club’ members will compete with a distinctive yellow number panel.”
Rutherford is a former South African champion who has 75 events to his credit along with current Class S champion Jannie Visser who is one event ahead. Next up is North West driver Deon Venter on 68 events who is followed by Rob Howie (66) with Danie Stassen, Mike Lawrenson, Keith Makenete and Sandra Labuscagne all bracketed on 61.
Seven competitors are on the verge of reaching the 50 event milestone. They are led by Phillip Herselman who is one away from his half century with Lance Woolridge, son of former South African champion Neil Woolridge, and Naeem Moosajee both on 48.
Current Special Vehicle champion Marius Fourie on 46 and a trio of other competitors are also poised to join the ‘50 Club’ this season. Rayhaan Bodhanya, former Class T champion Vince van Allemann and Andrew Makenete are locked on 45.
Competitors will be in unfamiliar territory from the word go when the season kicks off with the Mpumalanga 400 in Dullstroom. The event is a new one on the calendar and if the enthusiasm of the locals is anything to go by the event will get the season off to a rollicking start.
“We have been given permission to host the event in the centre of the town and race headquarters, the start/finish and designated service park will all be located on the Village Green,” said Rutherford. “The response from local business and residents has been phenomenal and this has the makings of the biggest sporting event that Dullstroom has ever hosted.”