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South African Team African Heritage preview

SA TEAM FAVOURED TO WIN AFRICAN HERITAGE/AMATHOLE 500 A little piece of South African motorsport history could be enacted at the African Heritage/Amathole 500 in the Eastern Cape from July 27 to 30. South African crew Mark Corbett and Rudi ...

SA TEAM FAVOURED TO WIN AFRICAN HERITAGE/AMATHOLE 500

A little piece of South African motorsport history could be enacted at the African Heritage/Amathole 500 in the Eastern Cape from July 27 to 30.

South African crew Mark Corbett and Rudi Balzer, in the Century Motorsport Nissan Navara, are among the entries for round two of the FIA Cross Country World Cup and will be heavily favoured to win -- and carve out a niche for themselves in local off road annals. The Eastern Cape race will be run in conjunction with the Amathole 500 which is round five of the Absa Off Road Championship.

There are four international entries for the World Cup race with the entry list bolstered by a string of South African crews who will compete in the FIA race on an invitation basis. They will not be eligible to score World Cup points but there will be trophies on offer.

The international entries all have impeccable pedigrees and plenty of Dakar Rally and FIA Cross Country experience. Brazilian driver Paulo Nobre and Portuguese co-driver Felipe Palmeiro will be out in the X-Raid BMW X3, Russian crew Mikhael Naryshkin/Artem Naslednikov will campaign a Nissan Patrol and multiple Italian champions Ricardo Garosci/Rudy Briani will be out in a Mitsubishi Pajero.

A fourth international entry, Norwegian driver Ivar Tollefsen and British co-driver Quin Evans will be out in a Nissan Navara entered by Nissan SA. Tollefsen and Quin have been competing in the Absa championship this year, and currently lie joint third with Castrol Toyota Hilux crew Mark Cronje and Chris Birkin in the Production Vehicle category.

While Nobre/Palmeiro, Naryshkin/Naslednikov and Garosci/Briani have plenty of international experience and will be out in race proven machinery, the old adage that a little local knowledge goes a long way will come into play. On this score Corbett/Balzer and Tollefsen/Evans will have a distinct advantage, and will be in line for a unique achievement.

Both crews will be in line to win both the Production Vehicle category on the Amathole 500 and the African Heritage Cross Country. It provides both teams with an incentive, and a fascinating duel could unfold in the Amathole mountains.

The South African entries in the Production Vehicle category are headed by the experienced Henri/Maurice Zermatten (Ryobi Nissan Hardbody) and Cliff and Louis Weichelt in the Bosal Toyota Hilux D4D. They will be joined by Ramon Bezuidenhout/Stefan Lock (Toyota Hilux), Frans Conradie/Jhaandre Coetzee (Toyota Hilux) and Herman de Villiers and Andre Griessel in a Chevrolet.

The Special Vehicle entries will be spearheaded by Jan Kraaij Snr. & Jnr., in the Regent Racing BAT. Farther Jan and son Hendrik currently lead Class B in the Absa Off Road Championship and won the Special vehicle invitation race in last year's African Heritage Cross Country in Limpopo.

Their main opposition will come from three Ruwacon teams in BAT models. Pieter Ruthven/De Waal Boshoff and David and Gary White will be out in Class A cars with Louw de Bruyn/Rudi Britz out in a Class B car.

Documentation and scrutineering for the African Heritage Cross Country / Amathole 500 will take place at the Garden Court in East London on July 26 and on the morning of July 27. The prologue for Absa Off road competitors and Stage 1 of the international event will start at 12h00 in Bisho and will finish at the Fish River Sun.

Round five of the Absa Off Road Championship and Stage 2 of the World Cup event will be run over a 500 kilometre circular route in the Amatola Mountains on July 28. Both races will start and finish at the Fish River Sun.

Stage 3 of the World Cup race, with the start and finish at the Fish River Sun, will be run on July 29 with the Stage 2 route run in reverse. Stage 4 of the African Heritage Cross County World Cup on Monday, 30 July will start at the Fish River Sun and will finish in Bisho.

-credit: msa/ahcc

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