Sugarbelt 400: Round three preview

NISSAN SUGARBELT 400 BACK IN ESTON AREA After a short 'sabbatical' the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, returns to the Eston area on May 16 and 17. Last year saw the event, organised by the Natal Off Road ...

NISSAN SUGARBELT 400 BACK IN ESTON AREA

After a short 'sabbatical' the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round three of the Absa Off Road Championship, returns to the Eston area on May 16 and 17.

Last year saw the event, organised by the Natal Off Road Motor Club, run in the Hluhluwe are in northern KwaZulu-Natal. This year, however, it is back to the Eston area where the Eston, Mid Illovo, Tala Valley Farmer's Association put a huge amount of time and effort into what in the past has been one of the most popular - and toughest - events on the Absa off road calendar.

"We are delighted to be back in the Eston area," said clerk of the course Rex Boreham. "The local community put a great deal of work into the race, and they have again been a big help in terms of finding and marking the route."

Boreham added this year's event would be just as tough as those of previous years with the usual mixture of cane fields, forest plantations and open grassland. And it is likely to be a wet race.

"If we don't get a dry spell between now and the race it is going to be wet," said Boreham. "There has been a lot of rain the area recently, and the long term forecast is for more rain."

The prologue on May 16 to determine start positions will be run over approximately 65 kilometres, with the race on May 17 made up of a west loop and an east loop with both approximately 90 kilometres in length. Competitors will complete each loop twice with a designated service area at the start and finish at the Beaumont Eston Farmer's Club.

"As in the past the east loop will be the fastest of the two," said Boreham. "By and large we have not departed too much from terrain used in the last races run in the area, and I don't have any tricks up my sleeves.

"For all that it is going to be a tough event with changing road surfaces, drop offs and narrow tracks making it a tricky race."

And, as has always been the case with the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, the race will again be spectator friendly. There will be at least 12 spectator points within easy distance of the start/finish.

"Most of the spectator points are easily accessible from major tar roads in the area," Boreham said. "These offer spectacular action with some high speed sections running next to the main road.

"The spectator points will all be clearly marked and spectator guides will be available at the start and finish."

-credit: absa

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