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After the challenging TGR 1000 Kalahari Botswana Desert Race held at Jwaneng in Botswana that produced new overall and class winners in the Special Vehicle Category of the SA National Rally-Raid Championship, a look at the championship standings shows that anything can still happen in the second half of the season.

With three of the seven rounds of the 2023 season now something of the past, the gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge is on in the overall as well various class championships in the Special Vehicle Category.

The Botswana event produced a third set of new overall winners this season with John Thomson/Maurice Zermatten (Zarco Challenger) being victorious and, also winning Class A, but it is the defending champions, Tim Howes/Gary Campbell (Tim Drew Property Developments BAT Spec 4) who are still firmly in the overall lead (71 points) despite a somewhat disappointing desert race result.

Thomson/Zermatten, who missed the season opener, have moved up to second place overall (55 points) with Glen Theron/Craig Galvin (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) moving up to the third step on the overall podium (53 points), trailing the desert race winners by only two points.

A blanket of a mere six points covers the four teams from second to fifth place with the Mostert duo, Ian and his father Werner (Moto-Netix Racing Can-Am Maverick) dropping from second to fourth place (49 points) and sharing the same amount of points as Geoff Minnitt/Rodney Burke (Hydro Power Equipment Can-Am Maverick) making it three Class G teams in the overall top five.

In the Overall Special Vehicle Driver’s Championship, Lood du Preez (Farmers Meat Stryker) is sixth (36 points) followed by the leading Class P driver, Quintin Lessing (CRT) (31 points) after a successful outing to Botswana, with Ewald van Rensburg (Can-Am Maverick), who could not finish the race in the desert and Trace Price Moor (BAT Venom) who missed the Botswana event, both on 30 points.

The rest of the top 10 in the Overall Special Vehicle Navigators’ Championship consists of Brendon Smith (31 points) who sits next to Lessing in sixth place; Johan Scheepers, who reads the notes for Van Rensburg and Gareth Aiston, who partnered Price Moor at the Sugarbelt 400 both have 30 points; Junior Vardy (24 points) scored points next to Du Preez in Botswana and André Geldenhuys (20 points) in 10th place navigated for Kahlil Hussain (Class P) at the TGR 1000 Desert Race.

Consistency is the name of the game in the class championships and the battles are getting serious. With competitors also receiving an additional five points for starting a race and navigators swopping seats, the standings look somewhat different.

Three solid sets of results accompanied with good points ensure that Howes/Campbell are still in the lead in Class A (84 points) with Thomson/Zermatten (70 points) trailing them by 14 points. Du Preez (64 points), who made use of three different navigators including Vardy (42 points) are both third followed by Price Moor/Aiston (35 points) with Eugene Bierman/Pieter Visser (Bat Spec 2) fifth with 33 points.

The Class G championship has an interesting look with Moto-Netix Racing team-mates, Theron/Galvin, who are the leading Class G team in the overall standings and the Mostert duo currently sharing the same number of points (82) at the front of the Class G championship. Minnitt (89 points) is third in the Class G drivers followed by Van Rensburg (57) in fourth and Francois de Wit (27 points) who could also not complete the race in the desert with his navigator and brother, Neil, in fifth place.

Scheepers rounds off the Class G Navigators’ Championship podium (57 points) followed by Burke (50 points) and Gerhard Snyman (23) who sat next to Minnitt at the Sugarbelt 400. De Wit (22 points) is sixth with the rest of the teams still in the hunt for their first points of the season.

Lessing/Smith (32 points) are the Class P leaders followed by Hussain/Geldenhuys (29 points) and Grant Watkins/Mark Irvine (15 points) who only participated in the Sugarbelt 400 and won the class.

It is tight at the top and competitors aiming for the titles as well as for good positions overall and in the class championships, have their work cut out for them for the rest of the season. They will have another opportunity to add points to their scorecards on the weekend of 18 and 19 August when the SARCC travels to Parys for round four and five of the season.

Published by: SA National Cross Country Series – Charmaine Fortune

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