Surprises in store for competitors in Pietermaritzburg

Competitors in the Production and Special Vehicle Categories entering the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, which takes place in the Eston area near Pietermaritzburg on April 23 and 24 can expect a few surprises...

Competitors in the Production and Special Vehicle Categories entering the Nissan Sugarbelt 400, round two of the Absa Off Road Championship, which takes place in the Eston area near Pietermaritzburg on April 23 and 24 can expect a few surprises from this year's route.

The Natal Off Road Motor Club (NORMC) organised event will consist of a Western loop of approximately 85km and a Southern loop of approximately 110km with the Western loop comprising forestry sections, cane fields and open grassland with some very steep inclines while the Southern loop will feature some forestry sections and plenty river crossings to catch out the unwary.

Absa Off Road Championship crews will complete each loop twice while Regional championship motor vehicles will complete two laps of the Western loop and one lap of the Southern loop. Regional championship motorcycle and quad competitors will complete three laps of an entirely separate Northern loop with their Clubman's and veteran counterparts completing two laps.

"The route is very compact and national championship competitors can expect a number of changes over past events," said NORMC Organising Chairman, Dave Gurney. "New sections have been added to the route, which is a lot more technical than in the past and is aimed at reducing the average speed."

"Early morning has always been a particularly treacherous time for crews with dew making the grassland sections very slippery," added Gurney. "The roads in the cane fields, especially if there is some rain before the event, tend to be deceptive and crews are best advised to stay on the route and not drive near the steeply cambered verges otherwise they'll find themselves buried deep in the cane."

Spectators on the Nissan Sugarbelt 400 will have a field day with approximately 25 vantage points within a 16km radius of the race headquarters and designated service point at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club.

The event gets underway at 12h00 on Friday, April 23 with a 35km Prologue to determine starting positions for Saturday's main event, which starts at 08h00. The first motor vehicle is expected at the finish at approximately 13h30.

-msa-

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Series Other rally