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A double dose of exciting racing awaits competitors on 18 and 19 August when they take on the Parys 400, rounds four and five respectively of the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship, and if the first half of the season is anything to go by, this event will also provide two days of nail-biting action in the Free State.

Last year, the double-header event at Parys formed the final two rounds of the championship, but this time the Parys 400 will be followed by two more rounds of the 2023 season in October and November. Moving the event forward by three months also means that less rain is expected and competitors can look forward to drier routes compared to the extremely wet event that forced the organisers to shorten the race last year.

The Afridome, on the outskirts of the quaint resort town of Parys in the northern Free State will be the venue from where the action will take place. The Start/Finish of both events as well as the Race Headquarters and the Designated Service Point (DSP) will be situated at the Afridome from where spectators will be able to follow the race.

Both the Parys 400 events will be one-day events which means an early start each day as the Pirelli Qualifying Race on Friday and Saturday will determine the starting order for the main race that follows later.

Round Four of the SARRC will start at 07:30 on Friday, 18 August when competitors in the Production and Special Vehicle Categories will take on the 32 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race from the Afridome. This includes a decontrol of eight kilometres (four kilometres to the start of the qualifier and four kilometres back to the DSP).

After the qualifying race, competitors will do a 173 kilometre loop, which they will have to complete twice. This route will take teams in a south-westerly direction towards Koppies before turning at Greenlands Farmers Union from where it will make its way back towards Parys.
The first 50 kilometres consists of fast flowing tracks between the farms with a few tight turns that can catch out the unwary.

From Greenlands, there will be more technical tracks in the mealie fields with washaways, ruts and ditches, and competitors will have to keep up the concentration. They will then cross the Koppies tarred road and will start making their way back on tracks in the fields and veld before finishing at the starting point and completing a 4 kilometre liaison section back to the DSP. After a compulsory service break, they will take on this 173 kilometre loop again.

A new race awaits at Round Five on Saturday,19 August with a 29 kilometre Pirelli Qualifying Race that will decide the starting order. The start time will again be 07:30 with the 29 kilometres route consisting of a nine kilometre decontrol section to the start of the qualifying race; a 16 kilometre race and four kilometre decontrol section back to the DSP.

For the race on Saturday, a 190 kilometre loop, which includes 20 kilometre liaison, will again start at the Afridome. It will start with a nine kilometre liaison section to the Start of the main race next to the Koppies tarred road from where the route will take competitors in an easterly direction towards Sasolburg and Wolwefontein before turning and making its way back towards Parys via the Weiveld Silos.

Competitors will quickly get into the swing of things as fast, technical tracks in the veld and mealie fields combined with fast flowing tracks interspersed with more technical tracks with washaways, ruts and ditches awaits. They will then cross the Kromellenboog Spruit before turning at Wolwefontein. Teams can expect a small rocky section near the end at Skietkop Farm and at the Finish of the main race situated near the Start. An 11 kilometre liaison section will take them back to DSP where they will have a service break before taking on the loop again.

The pressure will be on the teams to perform to the best of their abilities to accumulate the maximum number of points towards the championship titles on both days while still looking after their race vehicles as the limited time between the qualifying and the main race on both days will put extra pressure on their service crew.

After the first three events of the season that produced tight and technical tracks, the more open and faster routes of the Parys 400 will be enjoyed by many competitors.

There will be ample vantage points along the route to view the action and route maps will be published on social media and the website in advance of the event. The action can also be followed on the RallySafe App that is available as a free download from the iStore and the Google PlayStore with updated information also available on Facebook: saccsauto; Instagram: saccs_auto and Twitter: @SACCS.Auto

Published by: SA National Cross Country Series

Photography by:Plan C Productions

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