Fernando Alonso to be part of the action at Lichtenburg 400 while title contenders battle it out over 400 tough kilometres
While many eyes will be on the two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, in attendance at the Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of the South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) that takes place on 13 and 14 September in the North-West Province, teams in the Production Vehicle championship will have even more important issues to deal with – the best results possible in the chase for the championship titles.
Lichtenburg will be the place to be for cross country and motorsport enthusiasts who would like a glimpse of Alonso in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux. Alonso will be using the event as part of his intensive training programme with the aim to participate in the Dakar Rally. His training with Toyota Gazoo Racing has included training in the desert in Namibia as well as in Poland with more training to follow during the next few months.
While Alonso might steal some of the glamour in Lichtenburg, the battles for the championship titles will continue and the outcome of the race in the North-West Province will be of the utmost importance before the sixth and final round.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings will want to hold on to their overall and FIA Class lead and they will aim for another victory. Shameer Variawa/Juan Möhr will aim for that elusive victory and more points while the defending champions, Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy, will hope to give Lady Luck a ride so their fortunes can change. A victory or podium result will be just what they need to give them a push in the standings.
De Villiers/Murphy won the season opener but since then could not get rid of the monkey on their backs. This has resulted in them dropping down the leader boards and they will hope for a trouble-free outing at Lichtenburg.
Chris Visser will have Danie Stassen, for the second consecutive race, next to him in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux in the FIA Class and the team will aim to continue their good performance after a dismal first two outings for Visser.
There will be three Red-Lined Motorsport Nissan Navara’s competing in the FIA Class in the field, but it will be a new experience for two of these teams. Regular competitor, Ernest Roberts has again teamed up with Henry Köhne and with a few hundred kilometres now on the clock of his new Navara, a good result is on the cards for them. It will be a first outing in the FIA Class for Richard Leeke who has competed in Class T. Now with the experienced Zaheer Bodhanya and under the Red-Lined Motorsport banner, Leeke will be looking for a successful start to his new venture.
The circuit endurance racing driver, Kishoor Pitamber, will swop a dust-free tarred racetrack for a few dusty kilometres in the bush when he takes on his first SACCS event with the experienced navigator, André Vermeulen, reading him the notes. Pitamber plans to compete in the SACCS in 2020.
Schalk Burger Motorsport’s Schalk Burger/Elvene Vonk and Clint Weston (navigator to be announced) will again be out in their King Price Extreme vehicles with Burger hoping to put more valuable training kilometres behind him in his preparation for the Dakar Rally 2020. Johan van Staden will have his son, Sean, reading the notes in the Elf Renault Duster.
The competition in Class T will be as tough and although the defending champions, Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger) can almost touch the title, they will still have to be careful and need to add a few more points to their tally to secure the championships. Their opposition, Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) will go for gold as will Jacques van Tonder who has teamed up with Boyd Dreyer in the Ford Ranger for this event.
The international crew of Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea will again be in action in the second Ford Castrol Cross Country Ranger. Gary Bertholdt/Geoff Minnitt (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) will aim for a good result to push them further up the points standings from where they will eye a podium result in the Class T championship. The team were hit hard at the marathon event in Botswana where they could not score any points due to Bertholdt being unwell.
Wors Prinsloo (Ford Ranger) will have Sammy Redelinghuys, who read the notes for Van Tonder, next to him while Jason Venter/Jaco van Aardt (4x4 Mega World ARB Toyota Hilux) will also be in action. With the first points on the scoreboard after their very first outing at the recent Bronkhorstspruit 400, the Johnstone couple, Bernard and Minette (Toyota Hilux) will give it another go.
In Class S, David Huddy/Gerhard Schutte (Hud Racing Nissan Navara) have successfully defended their title, but with more silverware and points up for grabs, they will again be out in full force.
The Lichtenburg 400 will start with the Qualifying Race on Friday, 13 September at 13:00 to determine the starting order for the race on Saturday, 14 September. On Saturday the race will start at 08:00 at the Lichtenburg Showgrounds that will also be the venue for the Race Headquarters as well as the Designated Service Point (DSP) and Start/Finish.
There will be various points along the route for spectators to view the action. Enthusiasts can also follow the race on the RallySafe App that is available free for Android and iOS devices. Maps, information and standings are available on the RallySafe App.