- Wet and slippery route the dominant factor
All teams are eager to make a fast start to any championship and for Lesotho pair Stefan van Pletzen and Jaco Pieterse a win on the Mpumalanga 400 in Dullstroom, opening round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), was just what the doctor ordered.
Out in the ageing Live Lesotho Chenowth – the car was one of the last imported into South Africa in 2005 – van Pletzen and Pieterse scored a comfortable win on an event that saw the weather turn nasty and provide for a wet and slippery route. Van Pletzen/Pieterse maintained their reputation for getting the Chenowth to the finish and ended up second and third respectively – by narrow margins – in last season’s series.
Despite hiccups in the qualifying event and the race that had to be shortened because of the adverse weather conditions, van Pletzen/Pieterse had time to spare over second placed John Telford and Victor Ntsekhe in the Calcamite BAT Warbird. But reigning Class P champions Telford and Ntsekhe also had plenty to celebrate in their first outing in Class A.
A fast start to a season with a rich haul of points always raises confidence levels and the Dullstroom result will have worked wonders for Telford and Ntsekhe. Third placed father/daughter combination, Coetzee Labuscagne and Sandra Labuscagne-Jonk (4x4 Mega World ARB Porter), also had reason to be satisfied with a podium finish to open the season.
A break in communications between driver and co-driver was the only major problem the Labuscagnes encountered. For the rest it was a matter of keeping the Porter on the road in tricky conditions.
The final points paying place in Class A went to another Live Lesotho crew in Werner Kennedy and CJ van Pletzen, in the newly acquired Porter previously campaigned by KwaZulu-Natal based Clint Gibson. It was a difficult outing for the pair with the Porter falling prone to overheating problems, but for Kennedy/van Pletzen it was a Class A debut with positives for the rest of the season.
The only other Special Vehicle finishers were Nic Goslar and Andrew Massey in the SA Clinics Zarco who won a two car Class P battle with brothers Keith and Andrew Makenete in a BAT. That took Goslar/Massey, who were in contention for last year’s title up until the final event, into an early lead in Class P.
The next event on the SACCS calendar is the Battlefields 400 in Dundee, in KwaZulu-Natal, on May 4 and 5.