African Heritage final summary

RUSSIAN CREW WIN INAUGURAL AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY RALLY Polokwane, Saturday - Russian crew Sergey Shmakov and Konstantin Mescheschakov, in an RTL Zil Buggy, won the inaugural African Heritage Cross Country, a round of the FIA Cross...

RUSSIAN CREW WIN INAUGURAL AFRICAN HERITAGE CROSS COUNTRY RALLY

Polokwane, Saturday - Russian crew Sergey Shmakov and Konstantin Mescheschakov, in an RTL Zil Buggy, won the inaugural African Heritage Cross Country, a round of the FIA Cross Country World Cup, which ended at the Ysterberg Resort near here today.

In the first world championship off road event held in South Africa, the Russian crew overcame a string of mechanical problems to score a historic victory in the 1000 kilometre event. Shmakov and Mescheschakov eventually finished an hour and 16 minutes ahead of Hungarian crew Sandor Kis and Peter Czegledi in the Autosport Club Nissan Hardbody, with the Hungarians also having to overcome a myriad of mechanical gremlins to make it to the finish.

"It was one of the toughest races we have ever driven," said a tired but happy Shmakov. "The conditions were very different to what we are used to, but it was a great experience and a great effort from the team.

"The technical crew had to virtually rebuild the car after every racing section, and to just make it to the finish was an achievement."

Kis and Czegledi led the event, which started on Thursday and ran in conjunction with the national championship Ford Motorite 400, after racing section two. Early on in the final leg, however, they ran into a clutch problem that cost them a mountain of time and allowed the Russian crew to move into an unassailable lead.

"It was very disappointing, but that is the way of racing," said Kis. "It was a very tough event but we are happy to have finished."

The result gives Shmakov and Mescheschakov a handy lead in Class T1 of the FIA Cross Country World Cup. The pair were leading the championship before the South African race, and now look to have the Class T1 title in the bag.

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Series Cross-Country Rally