DEFIANT ATTITUDE FROM AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY Even with only two international entries, the Africa Heritage Cross Country in Limpopo Province from August 2 to 5 will go ahead. This is the defiant attitude adopted by race franchise...
DEFIANT ATTITUDE FROM AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY
Even with only two international entries, the Africa Heritage Cross Country in Limpopo Province from August 2 to 5 will go ahead.
This is the defiant attitude adopted by race franchise holder Ms Charmaine Fortune and the Motorsport South Africa Off Road Car Racing Commission over the running of what is a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup. It is the first time that South Africa has hosted a world championship off road event, with the African Heritage Cross Country running in conjunction with the national championship Ford Motorite 400.
"Behind the scenes it has been a nightmare since we were drafted onto the FIA calendar," said Fortune. "The African Heritage Cross Country has had to overcome a number of obstacles, not the least of which is a lack of international entries.
"On a number of occasions I have been ready to throw in the towel, but a stubborn streak has led to the adoption of a defiant attitude. It is also in the best interests of South Africa and the future relationship between the FIA, Motorsport South Africa and the MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission that a decision to go ahead with the event was finally taken."
Ms Fortune added the final decision to go ahead with the event was taken in conjunction with the MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission. Commission President Piet Swanepoel, along with the event organisers, the Koepel Club and the Four Wheel Drive Club of South Africa, had also put in huge amounts of work.
"Piet has been a stalwart and Willie Prinsloo, chairman of the Koepel Club, has cheerfully gone out of his way to perform at short notice the near impossible," Fortune said. "It was a joint decision to go ahead with the event, and Ford and Motorite also deserve our thanks for allowing us to piggyback on their event."
"Regional and national off road competitors also have the opportunity to enter the Africa Heritage Cross Country and the Ford Motorite 400," Swanepoel said. "Although SA competitors will not score points towards the World Cup, international trophies will be awarded to the first three SA finishers in the Special Vehicle and Production Vehicle categories."
Swanepoel added SA entrants would also not jeopardise losing national championship points. The two events will be scored separately and will be run as two separate events.
"Everyone connected with the organisation of the Africa Heritage Cross Country is determined at make a success of the event," Swanepoel said. "Our future dealings with the FIA dictate that this is the case."
TOP RUSSIAN TEAM FOR AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY
Top Russian competitor Sergey Shmakov, from Team Moscow ZIL, is currently leading the Class T1 championship in the 2006 FIA Cross Country World Cup and is third in the overall standings. Class T1 is for two-wheel drive vehicles.
Shmakov has been competing since 1999 and in 2003 won the Russian Championship, the Russian Cup and the Jeep trial. He has been competing in the FIA World Cup since 2004 and so far this year was third on the Por Las Pampas Rally, fifth on the Tunisia Rally and second in Class T1 on the Trans Siberia event.
The Russian won the Class T1 championship in 2004 and looks to be on track for a repeat performance this year.
"I am looking forward to competing in South Africa," he said. "For me it will be an interesting race."
EXPERIENCED HUNGARIAN TEAM FOR AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY
Two of Europe's most experienced campaigners will fly the Hungarian flag on the African Heritage Rally.
Sandor Kis and Peter Czegledi, from the RTL Motorsport Club, are Paris Dakar and FIA Cross Country World Cup veterans. The pair first took part in the Paris Dakar in 2003 in a Nissan Hardbody built in South Africa by Nissan Motorsport manager Glynn Hall and his team.
Kis recently took delivery of a racing Nissan Navara built in South Africa, but on the African Heritage Cross Country will be competing in a 3,5 litre Nissan Hardbody.
"Sandor is one of the biggest Nissan dealers in Hungary," said Hall. "It was decided that rather than bring the Navara to South Africa, we would prepare a vehicle for him in SA.
"We have taken the vehicle in which Hannes Grobler won the 2002 SA championship, and have made the necessary changes to bring the Hardbody up to international specifications."
Kis and Czegledi, along with team-mates Laszlo Palik and Gabor Darazi have helped put off road racing on the map in Hungary. Apart from the Paris Dakar the two teams have competed in Hungarian national events and have been regulars in the FIA Cross Country World Cup since 2002.
Palki and Dorazi will not be competing in South Africa.