Mpumalanga: Event cancelled

There was bad news and good news for the off-road racing fraternity this week. The bad news is the cancellation of the Toyota Dealer 400, round five of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in the White River/Sabie region of Mpumalanga on August 23...

There was bad news and good news for the off-road racing fraternity this week.

The bad news is the cancellation of the Toyota Dealer 400, round five of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in the White River/Sabie region of Mpumalanga on August 23 and 24. The cancellation was announced by Piet Swanepoel, president of the MSA Off-Road Car Racing Commission, after forestry officials refused to sanction the event.

The good news, however, is that the event is now likely to take place at Sun City on August 30 and 31. A final decision on the venue switch will be made on Monday.

"Extremely dry weather in the White River and Sabie areas has led to a high fire risk," said Swanepoel. "It is for this reason that forestry officials have withdrawn permission for the event to be run in Mpumalanga."

Swanepoel added that the MSA Off-road Car Racing Commission and joint organisers, the South African Motorsport Club, had identified alternative routes in the White River and Sabie areas to try and rescue the event. Unfortunately permission was not granted to allow the Toyota Dealer 400 to run on the alternative routes, and this led to the proposed switch to Sun City.

"Time ran out on us where the Mpumalanga event was concerned," said Swanepoel. "The lack of permission to utilise the alternative routes meant we had no option but to cancel the event."

Swanepoel added it was an unfortunate turn of events, but the Commission had no option but to respect the decision made by forestry officials. The Commission was disappointed, however, that permission to make use of alternative roads in the area had not been granted.

"Cancellation of the event is also a great pity in that the Mpumalanga area will lose millions of Rands in income generated by competitors from all over South Africa converging on the area," Swanepoel said. "The Sasol Rally draws a huge following from motorsport enthusiasts in Mpumalanga and surrounding areas, and we expected the same response for the Toyota Dealer 400."

Swanepoel added that a regional championship event at Sun City earlier this year had been observed by MSA Off-road Car Racing Commission officials, and met all the criteria for a national championship event. The proposed switch, however, necessitated a week's postponement of the event.

"A lot of the organisational work can easily be switched from one venue to the other," Swanepoel said. "Other aspects, however, will take a little longer and we have bought a little breathing space.

"The whole affair is unfortunate, but the Commission is determined to see to it that the Bankfin Off Road Championship is made up of a full complement of eight rounds."

-msa-

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