The MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission announced today that the calendar for the 2004 SA Off Road Car Racing Championship presented by Absa had been finalised and would feature a National Invitational event in addition to the eight National Championship events.
The National Invitational event, the Nampo 400, will be held in the Bothaville area on February 20 and 21 and will be observed by the MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission Exco with the view to the event being included in the 2005 championship.
?The Nampo 400 will not count towards the championship but the event will provide teams with an opportunity to conduct pre-season testing under full National Championship racing conditions before the championship proper gets underway on March 19 and 20,? said MSA Off Road Car Racing Commission President, Piet Swanepoel. ?The Bothaville and neighbouring areas are commercially important to many of the sponsors involved in off road racing so it is appropriate that this event be considered for the future.?
?It is important that the SA Off Road Car Racing Championship covers the widest geographic spread whilst at the same time meeting our objective of bringing this exciting spectacle closer to major metropolitan areas in the various provinces,? added Swanepoel.
The championship kicks off with the Nissan Dealer 400 on March 19 and 20, which was held for the first this year in the Darling area in the Western Cape. Darling is a short drive from Cape Town, which over the years has developed into one of the strongest motorsport fan bases in the country.
The Nissan Sugarbelt 400 is scheduled for April 23 and 24 and will again be based at the Beaumont Eston Farmers Club, which is conveniently close to Pietermaritzburg and Durban and annually attracts significant numbers of spectators.
Round three of the championship will be the Toyota 1000 Desert Race in Botswana from June 11 to 13. This year?s event attracted thousands of spectators, which led to major traffic congestion and unruliness but authorities have assured the organisers that adequate measures will be taken in future to eliminate these problems.
From the savannah of Botswana the championship moves to the glitz and glamour of Sun City where the Sun City 400 will be run on land owned by the Royal Bafokeng Nation on July 23 and 24. This year?s event provided numerous spectating opportunities all within a stone?s throw of the popular casino resort.
The Queen Motor Spares Tarka 400 on August 20 and 21 will break from tradition in that the Prologue to determine starting positions for the main event will be held in Queenstown on the Friday. The main race will, as per tradition, be run in the Tarkastad area where the rugged terrain has always proved to be a real test for man and machine.
From the Eastern Cape it?s back to the North West Province for the Oven Fresh Biscuits 500 in the Mafikeng area on September 24 and 25 where the bushveld terrain will be similar to that on the Sun City 400.
The penultimate round of the championship will be the Toyota Dealer 400, which was run for the first time this year in the Lydenburg area and with great success. The local town?s folk and the farming community gave the event their full support and have promised an even better route and a greater spectacle on October 22 and 23 next year.
The championship finale will again be the Carnival City Casino 400 in Brakpan on November 19 and 20. This year?s event attracted a huge spectator following at numerous points along the route and the event was judged to be the best organised of the 2003 season.
?Off road racing is going from strength to strength and 2004 could well see the emergence of new factory backed teams, more locally designed and built vehicles and increased benefits for all concerned,? concluded Swanepoel.