Mpumalanga 400 pre-route news

CHALLENGING ROUTE FOR TOYOTA DEALER 1000 The route for the Toyota Dealer 1000 in Mpumalanga from October 13 to 15 will provide competitors with "everything they could wish for from an off road race." The event, organised by the South African...

CHALLENGING ROUTE FOR TOYOTA DEALER 1000

The route for the Toyota Dealer 1000 in Mpumalanga from October 13 to 15 will provide competitors with "everything they could wish for from an off road race."

The event, organised by the South African Motorsport Club (SAM), is the penultimate round of the Absa Off Road Championship and the candidate event for South Africa's possible inclusion on the FIA Cross Country World Cup calendar in 2006. Because of its FIA observer status, the event had to be upgraded from a two-day 400 kilometre race to a three-day 1000 kilometre race.

"Upgrading the event presented us with a real challenge," said chief organiser Willie du Plessis. "We had to find around 800 kilometres of road, but the end result is a route that provides competitors with a wide variety of terrain.

"It is everything an off road racer could wish for, and on top of that the route takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery you will find anywhere in the world."

Du Plessis added that the SAM route team, under Hasie Haasbroek, had travelled thousands of kilometres over the last three months searching for new roads. With a huge portion of the route taking in virgin territory for off road racing, the search had been more than successful.

"The co-operation and support we had from landowners throughout Mpumalanga has been outstanding," said du Plessis. "Without their help we could not have accomplished what we have put together. Such was the co-operation many farmers spent hours and lots of kilometres in their own vehicles scouting for new roads.

"Hasie and Fanie Fourie also deserve praise for weekend after weekend of scouting and drawing up route and timing schedules. Behind the scenes there have been innumerable meetings, workshops, discussions and planning sessions but with a team like this I could win a world war."

Day one will consist of a short nine kilometre prologue starting at 11:30 from the Designated Service Point (DSP) on the rugby field at Lydenburg. Leg 1 of the event will start at 12h00 with the route running from the edge of the escarpment east of Lydenburg and next to Long Tom Pass. The route runs through scenic forest and crosses the R37 main road to eventually finish on the outskirts of Sabie. A 55 kilometre road section will take crews back to the overnight stop at the DSP.

Leg 2 of the event on Friday will start at 07h00 and after 13 kilometres of veld there will be a 40 kilometer de-control before the event restarts in the Draaikraal area. The section passes through Tonteldoos to a refuel, after 130 kilometres, at Roossenekal Primary School. The first car is expected at 09h00.

The next section is 180 kilometres with a selection of mealie fields, provincial gravel roads and veld and is linked by three short open sections. The route runs via Stofberg and Laersdrift to the Dullstroom refuel area. The first car is expected at 12h00 after a total of 239 kilometres of racing and 75 kilometres of open section.

Leg 3 starts with a short five kilometre open section before racing gets underway with a combination of veld, forests and provincial roads. This loop passes through Palmer, Machadodorp, Kruisfontein and Lydenburg. This loop is 244 kilometres and total for the day is 560 kilometres with the first car expected at the Lydenburg DSP at 16h30.

Day three sees Leg 4 off to another 07h00 start at Lydenburg Toyota. This is the prime section of the event with the route stretching over the property of around 25 different landowners. The route takes in veld and tough mountain sections and heads towards Dullstroom before cars return to the Lydenburg DSP after a total of 207 kilometres. The turning point for this leg is at the Owl and Oak outside Dullstroom with demanding mountain roads set to test crews to the full. The first car is expected back at the DSP at around 10h30.

The final leg passes through mealie fields in Coromandel before heading towards Badfontein, circling the Kwena Dam and heading back to the Lydenburg DSP for the finish. The total distance for the day is 367 kilometres, with the first car expected back at the finish at 13h30.

"The overall distance and the wide variety of terrain is going to provide competitors with a really stern test," said du Plessis. "I think we have achieved just the right balance in what is also going to provide crews with tactical options.

""It is highly unlikely that anyone is going to win this event over the first two days, and combining staying power with pace is going to be the key."

-msa-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Tom Long