Toyota 1000 Desert Race an opportunity to make up on lost ground

After a record 103 starts in the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) Coetzee Labuscagne has reached a milestone by leading the Special Vehicle overall and Class A championships.

The former Blue Bulls scrum-half and his daughter, Sandra Labuscagne-Jonck, have scored two third place podium finishes in the 4×4 Mega World ARB Porter in the two events run so far this season, to give them a narrow one-point lead in the overall championship. Another SACCS stalwart in Nic Goslar, who has 81 starts to his credit, is second in the overall championship and first in Class P.

The father/daughter combination – with Sandra able to call on international experience – and Goslar have reached the top spots in the overall and Class A and Class P championships by differing routes. The Labuscagnes have faced some formidable opposition in Class A, while Goslar and co-driver Joe Lima were the only entrants in Class P.

At both the Mpumalanga 400 and recent Battlefields 400 in KwaZulu-Natal the Labuscagnes had to dig deep for their podium finishes. The Mpumalanga race was run in treacherous conditions, while on the Battlefields 400 the crew had to soldier on without in car communications and brake problems and were one of only three crews to finish a punishing course.

Among those also to survive were Goslar and Lima (SA Clinics Zarco Magnum) who was standing in for regular co-driver Andrew Massey. Goslar and Massy finished fifth in Mpumalanga while Goslar and team technician Lima surprised everyone by finishing second in the KZN race.

Joint third in the overall standings are Stefan van Pletzen/Jaco Pieterse (Live Lesotho Chenowth) and Andre and Ralph Voigts in a BAT Viper. Van Pletzen and Pieterse won the Mpumalanga race, while the Voigts stunned the cross country fraternity to win the Battlefields 400 on home turf.

In Class A the Labuscagnes have an 11-point cushion over van Pletzen/Pieterse and the Voigts. John Telford/Victor Ntsekhe (Calcamite BAT Warbird) and Werner Kennedy/CJ van Pletzen (Live Lesotho Porter) are third and fourth with both crews casualties on the KZN race.

Goslar is the only driver to score in Class P and leads with 22 points. Massy is first in the co-driver championship with 12 points and Lima on 10.

The next event on the calendar, the Toyota 1 000 Desert Race in Botswana, carries 60 points over two heats and provides crews with an ideal opportunity to make up for lost ground. The only marathon event on the SACCS calendar, the event makes demands on perseverance and reliability and this year will again be held in the village of Jwaneng from June 22 to 24.