- Ford Performance Claims Third and Fourth In Qualifying For RFS Endurance Race
- Qualifying distance: 196 km
HARRISMITH, South Africa, 27 March 2015 – The Ford Performance team claimed third and fourth places overall in qualifying today for the opening round of the 2015 Donaldson Cross Country Championship, the RFS Endurance race in Harrismith.
The 196 km prologue was held in extremely wet, muddy and slippery conditions following heavy rains experienced in and around Harrismith in the week preceding the race, which made it tough going for all of the crews.
Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (T34), making their return to the series after a year off, emerged as the top-placed Ford Performance entry, powering their Ranger to third overall with a time of 2 hours 44 min 03 sec – a mere 3 sec behind the second-placed Toyota of Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie. Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Toyota) topped the time sheets with a 2 hr 40 min 11 sec qualifying result.
Ford’s Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (T28) finished fourth, 3 min 55 sec behind their team-mates. They were enjoying a fairly clean run until near the end of the prologue when the windscreen washer system failed.
With visibility down to virtually zero due to the seemingly endless mud splashes, they eventually landed in a ditch and got stuck 20 km from the finish. Several minutes were lost as the Ford crew extricated themselves.
Tomorrow the teams face two arduous 248 km loops through the mountainous Harrismith landscape for a 496 km race distance for the day, and total 692 km competitive action.
The action gets underway at 07:30 on Saturday morning from the La La Nathi Country Lodge just outside Harrismith, with the teams due to return to the designated service park at 11:03 for the scheduled 20 min service. The leading cars are expected back at the finish at around 14:55.
Neil Woolridge (Team Manager):
“With all the rain experienced in the Harrismith area recently we knew it would be a tough qualifying session, and the conditions were very difficult.
“The Fords and Toyotas are clearly in a class of their own, and it’s merely a case of survival at this stage.
“As long as the rain stays away and the sun is it out should make for a great race tomorrow, but we still have 500 km to go, which will make for a long day.”
Lance Woolridge (T34):
“It’s awesome to be back in the car again this year, but it was very rough and dangerous out there. The track was extremely slippery the whole time and we had to work very hard to keep the car on the road.”
“There were so many mud splashes, many of which were at critical turns in the route, which made navigation extremely difficult. As a result on at least four occasions we landed up on the wrong side of the fence and had to make U-turns to get back on track, which cost us time.”
Chris Visser (T28):
“It wasn’t easy out there, especially with all the mud. We were going fairly well until near the end when the windscreen washers stopped working. It was almost impossible to see where we were going, and around 20 km from the end we landed up in a ditch and got stuck.
“We managed to get out but probably lost around 3 min in the process.”