The South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) returns to the Eston / Mid Illovo area, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, for the first time in five years with the running of the 2020 Sugarbelt 400, and variety will be the name of the game as competitors take on a taxing and technical route for round two of the championship on April 3 and 4.
The event also holds special significance for the Ford Castrol Cross Country Team and the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team. Pietermaritzburg, one of the oldest Victorian cities in the world, is home base to the reigning Class T Neil Woolridge Motorsport team, who this year stepped up to the premier FIA class and reigning FIA class and Overall Production Vehicle champions Toyota Gazoo Racing with Toyota’s manufacturing plant a stone’s throw away in Prospecton.
The Sugarbelt 400, based at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club, was always regarded as one of the tougher events on the cross country calendar, and this year will be no different. The race will again follow the familiar and historical format with competitors completing two loops of a figure of eight route comprising an east and west loop.
The east loop is approximately 85 kilometres in distance and the west loop approximately 100 kilometres. After the first two loops there will be a compulsory 30 minute service halt and Parc Ferme at the designated service park (DSP) at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club before competitors restart the loop for a second time at 12:00
The Qualifying Race on Friday, 3 April to determine grid positions will be run over approximately 50 kilometres of the east loop. KZN Regional competitors will also complete the Qualifying Race on Friday and both loops of the race on Saturday which, forms round two and three of their championship.
The east loop primarily consists of sugar cane with some technical sections thrown in for good measure before entering the west loop via an interesting stadium spectator stage linked by a bypass via DSP. The west loop comprises fairly tight sugar cane sections before opening up and taking crews into a magnificent valley pass followed by more cane en route back to DSP.
As has always been the case the event is spectator friendly with numerous viewing points along the entire route. All the vantage points are easily accessible on good quality roads from the start/finish at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club where a variety of tasty treats and beverages will be on offer. Public access to these areas is free of charge.
Enthusiasts and spectators can also follow the Sugarbelt 400 action on the RallySafe App, sponsored by Toyota, which can be downloaded free of charge for Android and iOS devices. The standings during the event as well as relevant information will be available on the App.