Competitors in the South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) will be spoiled by spectacular scenery when they take on the Berg 400, a brand new event on the 2019 calendar that takes place on 17 and 18 May in the area of Winterton and Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Champagne Valley area at the foothills of the Drakensberg will welcome teams in the Production Vehicle, Special Vehicle and Side by Side categories for the second round of the SACCS championships as well as the second and third rounds of the KZN Regional Championship. It will be the first time that cross country competitors venture to these areas on national level and that will level the playing field for all.
Competitors can however expect the terrain to still be quite wet as the area experienced heavy autumn rain during the last few weeks. SACCS Route Director, Adri Roets, described the current route conditions as wet, wet and wet, but according to the long term weather forecast, not much rain is being predicted for the next few weeks. Teams were challenged by wet terrain at the season opener, the Mpumalanga 400 hosted in the Dullstroom area during March and it seems they might just have to keep lessons learnt at this event in the back of their minds to apply at the Berg 400 if necessary.
Local KZN teams as well as national and international participants can look forward to an event surrounded by the typical beauty of the area where the majestic Drakensberg overlooks proceedings.
The Waffle Hut on the outskirts of Winterton will be the hub for all the activities for the Berg 400. The start and finish of the Berg 400 will be at the Waffle Hut while Race Headquarters as well as the designated service park (DSP) will also be situated here.
On Friday, 17 May the 64km Qualifying Race will start at 13:30 from the Waffle Hut and will take competitors in an easterly direction towards Estcourt. The turning point will be at Moorleigh to the west of Estcourt with the finish back at the Waffle Hut. As always, the Qualifying Race will form an integral part of the event as it determines the starting grid for the second racing section on Saturday.
On Saturday, 18 May the action will start at 08:00 from the Waffle Hut. For the second racing section, the main race, the route comprises a loop of approximately 170km. National competitors will have to complete this loop twice to be listed as finishers. The route will be quite technical and will primarily traverse the Estcourt area. It will present teams with a combination of veld, mealie fields, long grass and undulating sections. After completing the loop for the first time, competitors will have a 30 minute compulsory service halt at DSP before the race restarts from the Waffle Hut at 12:00.
Spectators can also look forward to the action at the stadium stage that will be based on the outskirts of Estcourt just off Wembesi Road. This racing section will be about 30 kilometres into route and teams will be chasing hard. The elevated spectator area will provide spectacular viewing in the valley below. Vehicles will be visible entering and exiting the valley with good close-up racing action.
Various vantage points on the Loskop Road as well as in and around Estcourt and the Ennersdale rail station will also make for exciting viewing.
Enthusiasts will be able to see their local KZN heroes in action while national and international teams will bring entertaining racing to the valley. There will be ample time to get up close and personal with the teams and get a closer look at the race vehicles.
Food and refreshments will be available during the weekend at the Waffle Hut. Spectating in and around the Waffle Hut as well as along the route and at Estcourt will not disappoint spectators while the bearable winter weather in KZN should add to a perfect weekend of cross country racing.