Who’s who in WRX

With just more than a month to the start of the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town, here is quick look at the Top 10 in that zoo.

wrx1

Current World Champion Johan Kristoffersson, the speedy Swede whose big interests are family, fitness and and Rallycross. He drives a factory-developed Volkswagen Polo Supercar for Team PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, and in 2017, he drove it to 11 out of 12 finals, including a record-breaking seven victories, five of them in a row, winning the drivers’ title by a very, very large margin. Johan is currently topping the 2018 Championship Leaderboard and rates Höljes as his favourite World RX track. He can’t go without pasta, believes in pushing hard towards personal goals, and would love to have Jason Statham, Kimi Räikkönen and Barack Obama over for dinner.

Mattias Ekström of EKS Audi Sport is another Swede who has made a huge impact on World RX, winning the Championship in 2016 and racking up his fair share of race wins since then. He’s been hanging round RX paddocks since he was a youngster, watching dad Bengt compete, and has also won the 2004 and 2007 DTM touring car titles. Family, food and tennis make him happy, and his biggest rival can be found staring back at him from the mirror: himself.

wrx2

Norwegian Petter Solberg is Kristoffersson’s racing partner in team PSRX Volkswagen Sweden. He was the first person to be crowned an FIA World Champion in two different motorsport disciplines: a World Rally Championship title in 2003, and two WRX titles in 2014 and 2015. He has, thanks to his crowd-pleasing antics, earned the nickname ‘Hollywood’, and regards drivers Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen as his biggest inspiration.

Andreas Bakkerud is also from Norway and races alongside Ekström in the EKS Audi Sport team, driving an Audi S1 Quattro. He started karting at the age of eight and switched to Rallycross when he was fifteen. He is the only driver in WRX history to have amassed maximum points through each stage of an event weekend, which he did in 2016. He enjoys skiing and kickboxing and would, rather cleverly, take a helicopter with to a desert island.

Sébastien Loeb is a legendary Frenchman, the world’s most successful rally driver who has amassed an astounding nine consecutive WRC titles and 78 wins. He’s  a more recent star on the WRX circuit and races for the Peugeot Total team. He took six podiums in 2017 and considers the Lohéac track to be his favourite. A fan of rib beef and a lifelong lover of all things racing, Sébastien has seen and done it all…and won over a whole lot of fans in the process.

wrx3

In addition to these fantastically fast five, triathlon-running Timmy Hansen and his fun-loving brother Kevin, young upstart Niclas Grönholm, Latvian champion Janis Baumanis and experienced Russian Timur Timerzyanov make up the top ten. Fifteen other super-quick drivers will join them over this scintillating weekend, ensuring that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a favourite.

 

Des Easom, Executive manager of Killarney International Raceway, says:  “The final round of the World Rallycross Championship for 2018 is the type of motor racing that appeals to race fans and families alike. There is the drama and action of Rallycross cars that out-accelerate Formula One’s and driven by the world’s best drivers on tar and dirt. But WRX offers way more: spectators, friends and families can have a marvellous day out with racing and entertainment on and off track, aerobatic displays, fun activities and enough to eat and drink.

 

“So make sure you’ve got tickets for you and the whole family. It doesn’t get more exciting. It doesn’t get more entertaining. And it certainly doesn’t get quicker.”

Advertisements

Toyota wins in Morocco

Recording their fifth consecutive win in the Rally of Morocco, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Nasser Al Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel have written themselves into the record books.

MCH13215

Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser recorded three consecutive wins, while Giniel de Villiers and Stephane Peterhansel have each recorded back-to-back victories. With five consecutive wins, Al Attiyah has set himself apart, and proven why he is considered one of the best motor sportsmen in the world.

The Qatari, together with his French co-driver, set about the their task in Morocco with grim determination. They won the short, 10 km-long prologue, and then followed up with wins on Stages 1 and 2 of the rally. By Stage 3 they were already well clear of the nearest competition, and managed the race from the front.

Stage 5 saw the victorious pair cruise home, setting only the 7th-fastest time, but doing more than enough to claim a fifth consecutive title – their third in a Toyota Hilux.

MC1_7456

“It was a powerful display by Nasser and Mathieu,” said an overjoyed Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team Principal, Glyn Hall, from the finish podium in Fes. “They truly showed their class by leading from the get-go, and despite a scare when they lost a wishbone on the car, the pair powered on to victory. It takes a mammoth team effort to win a race like this, and I’m proud of what our entire team achieved out here in Morocco.”

The final stage also brought some joy for Al Attiyah/Baumel’s teammates, who had mixed experiences during the preceding stages. Tricky navigation, a broken wishbone, a roll and getting stuck in a muddy hole for 45 minutes were just some of the challenges faced by De Villiers and new co-driver Alex Winocq; as well as Bernhard ten Brinke and his new co-driver Xavier Panseri.

“It was a tough race for us,” said De Villiers after reaching the end in the city of Fes. “We managed to fight on through most of it, but were forced to retire yesterday when the exhaust manifold broke. But things went a lot better in the final stage.”

MCH13402

De Villiers/Winocq lead through most of Stage 5, which brought the rally full circle back to Fes, where the race had started on October 4. In the end, however, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA pairing were pipped to the post by MINI’s Carlos Sainz, who had had a torrid race himself. El Matador, as he is also known, set a time of 02:27:47 – beating De Villiers/Winocq by 01:03 – an amazingly close fight over such a long distance.

Just 27 seconds separated De Villiers/Winocq from teammates Ten Brinke/Panseri at the end, with the Dutchman and his French co-driver setting the 3rd-fastest time on the day.

A strong closing stage saw Ten Brinke/Panseri move up to finish in 6th place overall; while De Villiers/Winocq was classified in 20th place, after suffering a massive penalty for retiring on Stage 4.

MC2_7073

In the end, the Toyota Hilux of Al Attiyah/Baumel was followed by the MINI of Jakub Przygonski and Tom Colsoul in second place. The pair were also crowned the new World Champions during the Rally of Morocco, as their only remaining challenger, Vladimir Vasilyev (Toyota Hilux) was unable to complete the race. Third place in Morocco went to MINI’s Cyril Despres and Jean-Paul Cottret.

“The Rally of Morocco gave us an unparalleled opportunity to test and prepare the latest evolution of our Toyota Hilux for Dakar 2019,” concluded Hall as the event drew to a close. “Now we’ll head home and make some final adjustments, with some more testing before we wrap it all up and set off for South America.”

MCH28459

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA will next be in action at the final round of the South African Cross-Country Series, which takes place over the first weekend in November. The Gold 400, as the event is known, will be run in the area around the Gauteng mining town of Glen Harvie.

Giniel de Villiers and teammate Henk Lategan are separated by only 10 points at the top of the Production Vehicle Category – so there is a massive battle yet to play out before the South African season is over.

All eyes on Cape Town

Even though PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson was crowned the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Champion in the inaugural World RX of USA at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas recently that does not mean the pressure is off and as the countdown to the final in Cape Town begins, much is still at stake.

press_2018_08_FRA_PODIUM_(403) (1)

There are just 48 days to the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa before it hits the Killarney Raceway in Cape Town on the November 24/25.

“It’s fitting that all of this culminates in Cape Town, where motor sport has a huge fan base of petrol heads. Cape Town attracts a mixed-bag of international events annually including those that get our residents revved up and outdoors.

“We are incredibly proud to be hosting the Gumtree World RallyCross of South Africa for the second year. We’re ready. We’re excited, and we’re amped to smell that rubber burning,” says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

Swedish driver Kristoffersson put the World RX Drivers’ Championship out of the reach of his rivals in the semi-final stages of the US event, then overtook team mate – two-time World RX Champion Petter Solberg – to win the final, his ninth of the season.

press_2018_08_FRA_KRISTOFFERSSON_(208)

Some 18 500 spectators witnessed the first World RX event to be held in the USA and it was former Champions Solberg – who had been Top Qualifier – and EKS Audi Sport’s Mattias Ekstrom who lined up on the front row of the grid for the final. Solberg took the lead into the first corner as Ekstrom claimed the Monster Energy Supercharge Award for having the fastest reaction time at the start in his Audi S1 and headed straight for the joker lap.

Starting on the second row, Kristoffersson passed Ekstrom at the first corner in his Volkswagen Polo R and set about his pursuit of leaders Solberg and EKS’ Andreas Bakkerud. Solberg took his joker on lap two and stayed ahead of Kristoffersson, then retook the lead on lap four when Bakkerud played his joker. Kristoffersson moved into the lead when Solberg made a mistake on lap five and won the race ahead Solberg and Bakkerud.

“The team gave me a great car this weekend and I felt really strong from first practice. Then I got a little bit stuck in traffic in Q1 so it didn’t look so good to secure the Championship here,” explained Kristoffersson.

“Q2 was strong, the team gave me a very good car again for Q3. I won Q4 and then in the semi-final I had a really good tyre strategy. I made the pass on Mattias in the final which was crucial to be on the podium, then Petter had a small, small mistake and that was enough to win. I have to give a big thanks to Petter and the whole team for making this possible.”

The one-two finish for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team extended its lead in the Teams’ Championship.

11679

“It was very close, I did a mistake on the brakes and that’s it. But still I’m really pleased with the performance this weekend,” said Solberg. “Congratulations to Johan, I’m very happy for him to be World Champion in my team. For me it means a lot that he has been so consistent with no technical failures which is good from Volkswagen’s side. I think we have done a pretty good job and now I hope I will be even stronger for the next race.”

The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy visited Africa for the first time last year to become the first world series event hosted locally for many years.

The Western Cape then had its first taste of international Formula One racing when the non-championship Cape Grand Prix was held at Killarney back in 1960. Since then, the complex has grown and hosts several forms of main circuit racing as well as motocross, karting, stock cars and drag racing.

The 12-round WRX series got under way in Barcelona on April 14 and produced some intense racing with Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo R) named the winner of the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona, after Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro) was stripped of victory by stewards due to an incident with Petter Solberg (Volkswagen Polo R).

Add snow, rain and wind and the coldest final ever to the normal on track action and you get the conditions faced by competitors in the Bompiso World RX of Portugal, round 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.

11683

Johan Kristofferson took the win, gaining his ninth final victory in 11 starts and leads the series on 53 points from Andreas Bakkerud (44), Petter Solberg (43) and Sebastien Loeb on 39.

The action never abated through the rest of the season and with one round in Germany before the teams arrive in Cape Town there are a lot of people trying to knock Kristofferson off his lofty perch.

Rolled out

Before even the thought of escape, being upside down in a rally car usually gives the driver a millisecond in which to reflect on what might have been.

So true for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, in their Class R2N Toyota Etios who rolled out of the Lake Umuzi Secunda Rally at the weekend.

Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy- Lyle 3

The pair struggled with mechanical niggles on the opening day, but then fought back convincingly until a freak roll ended their charge on Stage 10 of the 12-stage event.

The Lake Umuzi Secunda Rally, was the penultimate round of the 2018 South African National Rally Championship. After a solid performance throughout the year, with the sole exception of a DNF at the opening round of the year, Botterill/Vacy-Lyle were hopeful to wrap up the championship in Secunda, leaving them with one round to spare.

“We’ve had a look at the maths,” said Guy Botterill prior to the race, “and it looks as if we only need to finish ahead of AC Potgieter to clinch the title.”

But it was not to be. The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crew started their assault on the title on the back-foot, as their normally reliable Toyota Etios suffered a misfire early in the rally.

The team replaced as much of the electronics in the car as possible, in an attempt to sort out the gremlin in the engine.

“That effort put paid to the misfire,” explained Botterill after the event, “but then we picked up a problem with the gearbox. As a result we only had first and fourth gears for the afternoon, which saw us end the day with a deficit of 22 seconds to AC Potgieter.”

Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy- Lyle 6

Potgieter (Volkswagen Polo) meanwhile, had to win the event in order to keep the championship alive, and the youngster from Secunda held nothing back. Even so, the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crew fought back on the Saturday of the event.

“With the misfire sorted, and a new gearbox fitted in our Etios, we managed to claw back all the time we had lost on the opening day. But then it all went wrong on Stage 10,” said Botterill.

The pair entered Stage 10, a second run through the section known as Tjorrie, with a lead of 2.2 seconds over Potgieter. The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crew approached a small bank on the inside of a corner on the same line they used during the previous run, but something went wrong.

“We’re not entirely sure what happened,” said Botterill afterwards. “We hit the bank in exactly the same spot as before, but this time it kicked the car up violently and we rolled over, ending our race. Maybe the angle was slightly different, but both Simon and I were caught out by how much the car reacted to the small bank.”

The crew emerged unscathed from the car, and even though they were forced to retire from the event, the damage to the Toyota Etios is reported to be largely cosmetic.

“This means we go to the final round of the season tied on points with AC Potgieter,” concluded Botterill. “It certainly isn’t ideal for us, but it does make the championship interesting. This time there’s no maths involved: Whoever wins the rally wins the championship.”

The final event of the year will be the Ermelo Rally, taking place in the Mpumalanga town of the same name. The dates for the event are 26 and 27 October, 2018, and the rally promises to deliver fireworks from both Potgieter and Botterill, as they duke it out for championship honours.

Images: Susan Vacy-Lyle

One to go

Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle could clinch the 2018 SA National Rally Championship at the Lake Umuzi Secunda Rally that starts on September 28 – if they finish ahead of AC Potgieter.

20180819_074633

The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Class R2N Toyota Etios crew have now recorded four victories on the trot in the Championship. This has put them in a position where they could potentially end up winning the title  with one round of the championship to spare.

“We’ve had a look at the maths,” says Guy Botterill, “and it looks as if we only need to finish ahead of AC Potgieter to clinch the title.”

Botterill/Vacy-Lyle have won all but one of the five rounds thus far, having failed to finish the opening event of the season. This gave them 64 championship points, with Potgieter (Volkswagen Polo) their nearest competitor at 57 points.

“But remember, in rallying each driver has to drop the points from one event,” explains Botterill. “So even though the gap between us and AC is only seven points at the moment, our worst result is a DNF, so we don’t lose any points when we drop it.”

Potgieter’s worst finish was worth nine points, effectively increasing the gap between the two crews to 16 points – which just happens to be the number of points you score for a win.

“So, if AC wins the event and we have a DNF, we’ll be tied for the championship with just the final round to go. However, if we finish anywhere ahead of him, he won’t be able to catch us during the last round, even if we have a DNF then,” says Botterill.

With the mathematics in place, there is still the small matter of a rally to do, and the Lake Umuzi Secunda Rally is set for next weekend, September 28th and 29th. As in the past, the event will be centered in the area around the Lake Umuzi Waterfront in Secunda, with the event starting at 15:00 on Friday, September 28th, from the Eastvaal Ford/Mazda dealership in Secunda.

The Friday of the event will see the crews tackle four stages, with the final stage taking place after dark – and the crews tackling it in reverse road order. The action restarts at 8:00 on Saturday, September 29th, with eight stages forming the meat of the rally.

DSC_8330

The Lake Umuzi Secunda Rally has become a firm crowd favourite over the last few years, and it forms part of a festival hosted by the town each year. Spectators can enjoy the rally, and take in the festival at the same time.

Entry to all areas is free of charge, and Secunda is within easy driving distance from both Johannesburg and Pretoria.

“We didn’t win in Secunda last year, so we’d really like to perform well this time out,” concludes Botterill. “A win would seal the championship for us, making it five in a row – and nothing would please us more.”

Ford and Toyota win in the Free State

The Harrismith 400, Round 5 of the 2018 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS), saw Toyotas as the first three cars across the line , but it was Ford that claimed the victory in the hotly contested Class T category.

Harrismith 400-5131

Victory in Harrismith went to former champion Chris Visser, with Philip Herselman beside him in the Atlas Copco-supported Toyota Hilux. It was a first overall victory for Visser/Herselman since joining the fray in Class FIA of the SACCS this year, and the burly farmer was ecstatic with his win.
“It has been a long time coming, and we’ve gotten close on a number of occasions,” said Visser from the Designated Service Park (DSP) at the Eeram Farmer’s Complex, to the west of the Freestate town of Harrismith. “But today everything came together. The Hilux ran like clockwork, Philip was an ace on the notes, and I really gelled well with the terrain.”

Visser/Herselman brought their Toyota Hilux home just 01:34 ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Henk Lategan and Barry White, who were fresh from their maiden win at last month’s Atlas Copco 400 in Bronkhorstspruit. The factory crew had won the qualifying race for the Harrismith 400 on the Friday before the main event, but found the going tough during the remainder of the race.

“Opening the route was really difficult, though I think we might have been just a touch too cautious on the opening loop,” said Lategan after finishing the race. “We tried to push a bit harder during the second loop, but Chris drove like a man possessed, and in the end, we just couldn’t catch him.”

Third place, 04:54 behind Lategan/White, came the 4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux of Jason Venter, with Jaco van Aardt beside him. The pair had last raced at the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1,000 Desert Race in June, but it was a clear return to form for the former Class T champions.

“It was a good race for us,” said Venter after the event. “We came out here with the sole aim of having some fun, and maybe the relaxed attitude helped us go faster. Whatever the case may be, we had a great race and we’re very pleased to be on the overall podium.”

Harrismith 400-5200

Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy, in the factory Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux. Their weekend started with a broken tie rod during the qualifying race, forcing the pair to drop way down the order for the main race.

Harrismith 400-5617

With Lategan/White finishing second, and De Villiers/Murphy not scoring points in Harrismith, the Production Championship is wide open. While the official standings won’t be updated until the results from the Harrismith 400 become official, it is likely that only ten points will separate De Villiers, at the top of the Production Category standings, from teammate Lategan in second place.

Class S saw championship hopefuls, Jannie Visser and son Chris, retire near the end of the race, handing the class championship to David Huddy and Gerhardt Schutte (Nissan Navara) in the process. The Vissers were 15 points behind Huddy/Schutte going into the penultimate round, but a DNF means that they are now out of contention, making Huddy and Schutte the new Class S champions.

The Free State proved a happy hunting ground for the Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team for the second year in a row as Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer scored their second consecutive Harrismith 400 Class T victory at the weekend.

gareth-woolridge-boyd-dreyer-1_880x500

Having earned their first career win at this event last year, it was once again a stellar performance from the young pair in the NWM-built and run Ford Ranger, catapulting them from fourth to third place in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS).

Team-mates and current Class T championship leaders, Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable were not quite as fortunate in the second NWM Ford Ranger but still managed a solid fourth place.

With their title rivals, Johan and Werner Horn (Toyota), encountering troubles and only managing sixth, it gives the Ford crew a bit more breathing space with their lead extended from four to nine points – thus setting the scene for yet another thrilling two-horse race for championship glory at the season finale.

Qualifying

With this year’s Harrismith 400 featuring an almost entirely new route, the primary objective for the Ford NWM team was to score maximum points without taking any risks that could sideline them in the fierce battle for the 2018 Class T Production Vehicle title.

As the SACCS Class T leaders, Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable were the fastest of the NWM Ford Rangers on Friday’s extremely windy and dusty sprint-style 39km qualifying session. They set the third-fastest time, which gave them an ideal starting position for Saturday’s main race without having to sweep the road – and, crucially, they were two places ahead of the Horn brothers.

Making the most of their local knowledge, Harrismith residents Jacques van Tonder and Sammy Redelinghuys caused a stir by powering their NWM-built privateer Ranger to the fastest qualifying time, 40 seconds ahead of Woolridge/Huxtable and 13 seconds quicker than second-placed Richard Leeke/Danie Stassen (BMW).

Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer were fourth quickest, just 7 sec behind their team-mates, perfectly placed to pounce as the race progressed.

Race

This year’s new Harrismith 400 route featured a challenging mix of fast farm tracks and gravel roads, keeping the crews on their toes throughout the two 177 km loops.

Lance and Ward started off well and were pushing hard, but despite the extremely dry and dusty conditions, they quite unexpectedly found themselves stuck in a mud hole located in a small forest section, just 65 km into the race. Several other crews were nearly caught out by the same hazard, which cost the Ford team around two minutes to extricate themselves – thus undoing their early charge, resulting in them holding station in fourth at the end of loop one.

Gareth and Boyd were setting a blistering pace and fortunately had no major issues on the first loop, other than one of the right front shock absorbers breaking towards the end of the opening stint, which only hampered them on the big bumps. They came into the pits leading Class T by more than two minutes over Leeke/Stassen in second place, and almost three minutes ahead of Van Tonder/Redelinghuys who had dropped back to third.

gareth-woolridge-boyd-dreyer-3_880x500

With the damaged shock absorber replaced, Gareth and Boyd had a perfect run through the second loop and claimed their second Harrismith 400 win in a row with a total race time of 4 hours 35 min 10 sec – more than 6 minutes ahead of Leeke/Stassen and a further 1 min 21 sec clear of third-placed Van Tonder/Redelinghuys.

As the Ford NWM team’s third win of the 2018 season, the maximum haul of 30 points powered the young duo into third place in the championship, ahead of Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minnnitt (Toyota) who crossed the line fifth.
For Lance and Ward, their second loop was also a fraught affair. They set blistering times on the first part of the stage and were within 20 seconds of second-placed Leeke/Stassen with 80km to go, only to lose the front brakes on their Ranger. A cautious drive to the finish saw them claim a hard-fought fourth place.

With rivals Johan and Werner Horn also experiencing a difficult weekend and finishing sixth, Lance and Ward are now nine points ahead of the Toyota crew going into the last race, scheduled for 2-3 November in Westonaria, Gauteng.

ford-nwm-3_880x500

Thanks to three Rangers finishing in the top four places, Ford won the coveted Manufacturers Award for the second time this year, to go along with the season-opener in Dullstroom.

The final race of the 2018 SACCS season will take place on 2 and 3 November in Glenharvie, Westonaria, Gauteng. The event was originally planned for Sun City, but had to be relocated due to landowner authorisation not being granted for the race route.

gareth-woolridge-boyd-dreyer-winners-class-t_880x500

Taking hold

Toyota Gazoo racing will be looking to consolidate its lead in the 2018 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS) in Round 5, the Harrismith 400, that takes place around the Free State town of Harrismith on September 14/1.5

For Toyota Gazoo Racing SA it offers an opportunity to cement its standing at the top of the championship table.

Giniel de Villiers, partnered with Dennis Murphy, currently leads the Production Category standings by 33 points over teammate Henk Lategan, who races with Barry White beside him in the Class FIA Toyota Hilux.

Atlas Copco 400 2018-2

“Giniel is still in the lead at the moment, and if all goes to plan he should be able to bring the championship home,” says Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team Principal, Glyn Hall. “But Henk and Barry are fresh off a victory at the previous round, and will certainly be pushing hard to keep Giniel and Dennis honest.”

With 30 points on offer for a win, the battle between the two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crews is certainly one to watch, and even a minor slip by De Villiers/Murphy could close the gap considerably before the final round of the 2018 series.

Both Class FIA Toyota Hilux race cars have already been prepared for the Rally of Morocco, which takes place from October 3, 2018. As such they feature numerous upgrades including tweaks to the engine, transmission and suspension.

“As much as we need to win in Harrismith, we also need to look after the cars, as they will be shipped to Morocco directly after the race,” continues Hall.

_MG_2305_1_

In the Class FIA championship, it is an all-Toyota podium as things stand at present. The two Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crews lead the charge, with Chris Visser and Philip Herselman (Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux) in third place, 34 points behind Lategan/White.

The battle for Class T supremacy is set to continue at the Harrismith 400, as defending Class T champions, Johaan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) fight to regain the lead in this season’s standings.

The pair are currently just four points behind log leaders Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (Ford Ranger), and with only two races to go, the Toyota lads will be going all-out for victory in the Free State.

With that said, Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minitt, in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux are not out of the Class T title fight either, and find themselves just ten points behind the Horn brothers, thanks to victory on the Atlas Copco 400 in Bronkhorstspruit last month.

Class S will see Archie Rutherford and son Kent back in action in their Toyota Hilux, with 4×4 Mega World’s Heinie Strumpher and Henri Hugo also joining the fray in their Toyota Hilux. Strumpher is currently in third place in the championship, 19 points behind Class S leader David Huddy (Nissan Navara), but a good performance in Harrismith could put him right back in the title fight.

The Harrismith 400 gets under way at 13:00 on Friday, September 14, with the qualifying race to determine the start positions for the main event. This short, sharp race takes place over only 40 km, but may play a pivotal role in the outcome of the main event, which starts at 08:00 from the Earam Farmer’s Market Complex, on the Johannesburg side of Harrismith.

_MG_2291