It’s time for the nerves to return as the organizers of the SA Rally-Raid Championship have finalized preparations for the Mpumalanga 400, the season opener which takes place on March 25-26 in the Dullstroom area and with this first classified round as a super event, there will be even more action on the two days of racing in the picturesque mecca of trout fishing. And with Regulation C-19 adapted, spectators will once again be welcomed at the Mpumalanga 400 Start/Finish and Designated Service Park (DSP), located at the Village Green Cricket Oval in Dullstroom. Published C-19 rules will however continue to apply. New classes, sponsors, vehicles and teams, including competitors who have successfully returned from the Dakar Rally will be in action on what promises to be a demanding but enjoyable course in a spectacular area, are all contributing factors to this event that sets the tone for the rest of an exciting season to follow.
Racing action for the production and special vehicle categories will begin early on Friday 25 March when a short 20 kilometer qualifying race kicks off the Mpumalanga 400 super event at 10.15am. The starting order for the qualifying race will be based on the National Ranking System with teams starting at one minute intervals. The course will present competitors with a pleasant mix of forest roads and dirt tracks and fingers will be crossed for good weather conditions as an introduction to the 2022 SA Rally-Raid Championship. The results of the Qualifying Race will determine the starting order for the first loop of the Main Race which will start at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. The starting order for the first loop will be somewhat different from the previous championship, with the top 10 ranked drivers in the Qualifying Race being able to choose their starting positions, for the first loop, by drawing lots, with the tenth ranked driver having the first choice. , then ninth down to the fastest qualifier. A nice first loop, the Belfast Loop, will be on Friday’s menu. It will be around 80 kilometers with some high speed sections in and out of Belfast’s lush forest. According to the locals, but pending the unpredictable weather conditions in the area, the loop should be relatively dry. With the first 100 kilometers on the clock, competitors will tackle loops two and three on Saturday March 26, with the lead vehicle leaving the Village Green Cricket Oval in Dullstroom at 08:00 to tackle the short spectator stage on the outskirts of Dullstroom before heading to the scenic section of Tonteldoos. Teams will start loop two according to the combined qualifying race standings and loop one with a 130 kilometer loop two ahead of them. Most competitors will have experienced the scenic views of the Mpumalanga 400 in previous years and the course will again consist of open tracks in the most scenic surroundings including mountains, riverbeds and challenging technical sections.
After completing the second loop, teams will return to the DSP for a mandatory service break before challenging the same race loop again. With the DSP now open to the public, enthusiasts will be able to experience the thrill and excitement of racing by rubbing shoulders with the teams and seeing the racing vehicles up close while food and refreshments will be offered for sale by SA Epilepsy Home (SANEL) and other local providers throughout the weekend. The finish of the 2022 Mpumalanga 400 will be at the Village Green Oval for teams that have completed the 360 kilometer test. With a full field in the production vehicle and special vehicle categories expected at the season opener, spectators and enthusiasts will be delighted. It’s all about going for the gold and chasing the championships, with teams scoring points for their separate class championships and overall standings in production or special vehicle categories. After the previous four successful outings of the Mpumalanga 400 in the Dullstroom area, the event has established itself as one of the biggest sporting events in the region and is a major contributor to the economy in terms of accommodation, food and drinks, fuel sales and short term. employment, which energize the territory and activity in general.
The success of this event has depended on the excellent support of Malalane Toyota and the full cooperation of local authorities and businesses as well as landowners who make their properties available to the event and the SA Rally-Raid Championship. is grateful for the collaboration between the different actors. During the race, the action can be followed on the RallySafe app available for free on the Google Play Store or iStore. Information will also be available on the Telegram app. Photos: Nadia Jordan