South African champions Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie preserved their unbeaten record this season when they cantered to victory on the Lichtenburg 450, round four of the Donaldson Cross Country Motor Racing Championship, on Saturday, 30 July 2016.
Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie

Image by Waldo van der Waal

The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA pair had plenty to spare over team-mates Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy with both factory cars running in the FIA Class. The results, however, are provisional with several competitors – including Poulter and Howie – competing under appeal after a number of crews were penalised for road crossing indiscretions on the 84 kilometre qualifying race to determine grid positions.

The two Gazoo Racing SA cars were again in a class of their own and the major story of the race saw Jason Venter and Vince van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), take over the Class T leadership from Neil Woolridge Motorsport/Ford Performance Ranger pair Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable. The Ford crew led Venter/van Allemann by a single point going into the race, but third place saw the North West crew put some daylight between them and Visser/Huxtable who were fifth in class.

A fire at the NWM workshop 10 days ago destroyed the two Ford Rangers campaigned this season by Visser/Huxtable and Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer. Kobus van Tonder and the Uni Freight team came to the rescue and loaned out their NWM built Ranger to allow Visser/Huxtable to compete for the rest of the season.

Jason Venter and Vince van Allemann

Image by Waldo van der Waal

Another workmanlike drive saw Venter and van Allemann, who have come on leaps and bounds in the last two seasons, finish on the podium with the pair comfortably ahead of Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minnitt – standing in for regular co-driver Pierre Arries – who were fourth in the Atlas Copco VW Amarok. Bertholdt and Minnitt lead Class T, for vehicles above four litres and with solid axle rear suspension, after the qualifying race with the Amarok showing plenty of potential.

There were also steady drives from Luke Botha/Andre Vermeulen (Red-Lined Nissan Navara) and Hennie de Klerk/Adriaan Roets (Treasury One BMW X3) who were fifth and sixth overall and third and fourth in Class T. Terence Marsh and celebrity co-driver Kurt Darren, in the Red-Lined Nissan Navara, were seventh overall and third in the FIA Class, with the pair followed across the line by Visser and Huxtable.

It was a difficult outing for the Ford pair who ran into difficulties on the first of the two loops that made up the race. A problem changing a wheel after a puncture set the pair back on their heels, and they were left to try and make up positions in dry and dusty conditions.

The father and son pairing of Jannie and Chris Visser

Image by Waldo van der Waal

There was some consolation for the Visser family when former national champion Jannie Visser and son Chris junior won Class S for cars under four litres with solid axle rear suspension. Visser farms just up the road from Lichtenburg with the Toyota Hilux pair revelling in the conditions.

The Vissers came in ahead of Otto Graven/Bobby Brewis and Ronald Graven/Lohan Faber in a pair of Graven Motorsport Toyota Hilux models. Visser and the Gravens made up ground on championship leader Heine Strumpher and Henri Hugo (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux) who failed to see out the full race distance.

The next event on the Donaldson calendar is the Nkomazi 450 in Malalane, a gateway to the Kruger National Park, on August 26 and 27. The event will feature a route much changed from previous years, and will be run in conjunction with the sixth round of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship.