A stirring fight back saw Francois Conradie and Jaco Van Aardt come from out of the top 10 to take overall, special vehicle and Class P honours on the Lichtenburg 250, round three of the Northern Regions Cross Country Championship, over the weekend. After a disappointing run in the qualifying race that determined grid positions Conradie and Van Aardt, in a BAT, started from 14th place. By the end of the first of the two 100 kilometre loops that made up the race Conradie/Van Aardt had worked their way into fifth place.
Qualifying race winners Francois Smit and Craig Galvin, in the Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Zarco Lite, ran into problems and dropped down the pecking order. The overall lead was then held by production vehicle crew Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Toyota Hilux) who lost wads of time in the pits after the first loop while they repaired steering problems. On the second loop Conradie and Van Aardt continued to make progress.
With 50 kilometres remaining they chased down Kobus Fourie and Sidriaan De Villiers, in another BAT, with Smit and Galvin holding on for third place. Conradie/Van Aardt, Fourie De Villiers and Smith/Galvin led home the Class P brigade with veteran former national champion Giel Nel and Ferdie Pieterse fourth in a Zarco Truggy. Fifth were Werner Kennedy and Thinus Venter, in an Aceco, who led the Class P championship by five points from Andre and Zelma De Beer (BAT) going into the race.
The De Beers won the Barberspan 500 after coming from the back of the field. This time, however, they were among the Class P non-finishers along with the fancied father/son combination of Tony and Michael Gouveia in another BAT. Class B championship leaders Marthinus and Tiaan Le Roux (Sandmaster) were also among those who fell by the wayside with gearbox problems hitting them 30 kilometres from the finish.
That handed the win to veteran former champion Wolf-Pieter Pfumfei in the Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Sandmaster/WPP, with John Evans and lady driver Suma Smit second and third in Jetpatcher Isuzu Racing Sandmasters to give the team a clean sweep. A maiden production vehicle victory, and with it Class E honours, went to David Huddy and Mike Fehrsen (Nissan Hardbody), who race under the wing of former national champion Buks Carolin. They were comfortably ahead of Class D winners Reagan Austin and Warren Vos in a Toyota Hilux.
After two straight overall and Class D wins the law of averages caught up with Dylan Venter and Vince Van Allemann (4×4 Mega World Toyota Hilux), who were forced to retire with transfer case problems. Third overall were Bertus Kriel/Anton Muller in a Ford Ranger. Austin/Vos and Andre Geldenhuis and Victor Fincham, in an Isuzu KB, were the only finishers in Class D. In Class E the Huddy/Fehrsen and Kriel/Muller combinations were followed home by Andries Mynhardt/Hein Kruger (Ford Ranger), Rob Reid/Bodo Schwegler (Mastercraft Nextgen Mitsubishi Pajero) and Theuns Du Toit/Arnold Nortje (Toyota Hilux) with Putter and Claasens eventually limping home in sixth place.
The Clubman category was won by Gert Steyn and Johan Burger, in a Toyota Hilux, who were the only finishers in the category.
Photo: Conradie – van Aardt – Special Vehicle Winners
Photo credit: Yolanda Markram