The route for the Waterberg 400, the seventh and final round of the 2023 SA Rally-Raid Championship that takes place on 10 and 11 November in the Thabazimbi area in Limpopo Province, will include varying terrain challenging competitors in the final charge for the national titles, while it will keep spectators in awe of the capabilities of the competing crews in their powerful race vehicles.
It is the first time that a round of the SARRC will be hosted in this area of the country and not only will this new event be a level playing field for all, but it also provides the region with a major economic boost. The Koedoeskop Laerskool situated on the R511 approximately 35 kilometres from the town of Northam, which boasts the world’s deepest platinum mine, will be the stage from where all the action will take place, and the destination is within easy reach of Tshwane and Gauteng, and enthusiasts can drive through for a day filled with exhilarating racing.
The Waterberg 400 will consist of the Pirelli Qualifying Race of 59 kilometres on Friday, 10 November followed by two loops of 178 kilometres on Saturday,11 November.
On Friday, the ceremonial start of the Waterberg 400 will be at Koedoeskop Laerskool from where teams will do a 15 kilometre liaison section towards Northam to the starting point of the Pirelli Qualifying Race. The last 41 kilometres of Saturday’s main loop will be used for the qualifier that gets underway at 12:30. Teams will first encounter tight and twisty bush tracks on game farms before the route changes to fast flowing open tracks around pivots for the last 21 kilometres. At the end of the racing section, competitors will do a short liaison back across the Crocodile River to the Designated Service Point (DSP) where Race Headquarters will also be situated.
On Saturday, competitors will have to take on two loops of 178 kilometres each that will be split by a seven kilometre decontrol. The Start/Finish as well as the DSP will be at Koedoeskop Laerskool from where the race will start at 08:00. The fast and flowing route will make its way around pivots towards the first crossing of the R511. From there teams will head in a north-easterly direction to a very technical three kilometres mountain crossing where patience on the rocky and twisty section will be rewarded with more open bush tracks on game farms and a high level of technical sections that will force competitors to concentrate, and to prevent any possible wrong slots.
And to add to the adventure, crews will have to be alert and on the lookout for roaming game as well.
The route then turns back for the second R511 crossing before it leads teams to fast, flowing tracks around pivots in a south-westerly direction, crossing the Crocodile River via a low-water bridge. And just when competitors think they can relax, the route enters game farms towards Northam for yet another stint of tight and technical bush tracks with more game as the observers.
A seven kilometre neutralisation (non-racing) section zone on a gravel road will take teams to the final racing section of the loop. They will encounter more bush tracks on game farms that will change to fast and flowing tracks before the end with a short liaison back to DSP, again crossing the Crocodile River.
After a compulsory 30 minute decontrol, teams will have to complete this 178 kilometre loop again before receiving the chequered flag at the finish at the Koedoeskop Laerskool where the podium ceremony will also take place.
With extremely small points’ margins between the leading competitors aiming for SARRC national titles, as well as between teams aiming to finish the season in the best possible position, the Waterberg 400 promises action-packed racing to round off an exciting year.
Published by: SA Cross Country Series – Charmaine Fortune
Photography by: Plan C Productions
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