Team Ford Racing enjoyed a dramatic and eventful start to the 2011 Absa Off Road Championship. The opening round of the season, the Adenco 400 got underway on Friday 11 March.
South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst enjoyed their debut with Team Ford Racing. The pair claimed the Production Vehicle and SP Class championships last year and will be hoping to repeat the effort this year.
Their SP Ford Ranger was completely rebuilt during the off season and the duo were eager to fly the flag for the Blue Oval. With relatively limited time to prepare ahead of the opening event, Visser had to adjust to the left-hand drive configuration of the Ford as well as the torque characteristics of the turbo diesel power.
“We’re very happy to be part of the Ford team. We’ve had a steep learning curve over the last few weeks getting to grips with the car and the team but overall the car feels great and we’re very upbeat,” commented Visser.
The Ford debutants enjoyed a strong showing in the prologue, finishing in 3rd position. The main race set off at a cracking pace with the top three SP teams pushing their cars and themselves to the absolute limit. At the start of the last lap of 160km the diesel Ranger surged ahead with a two minute lead and looked set for victory. Unfortunately a broken rear prop shaft halted their progress with a damaged fuel line further complicating the situation.
“Our teammates were able to get a prop shaft to us. We were able to get the car running again and made it across the finish line. It was a pity to end the race in that way but we really had an opportunity to experience just how much potential the Ranger has and we are looking forward to the season ahead,” concludes Visser.
Rising Off Road star Lance Woolridge and navigator Ward Huxtable also had a weekend of mixed emotions as they made their debut in Class D. The pair rolled their vehicle during Friday’s prologue as a result of a broken differential mounting. The team worked through the night to get the Ranger repaired and ready to run for the main event.
The team’s efforts paid off as Woolridge and Huxtable mounted a strong challenge that saw them claw back time and start the last loop with an 11 minute lead in their class. Sadly with a few kilometres to go a gearbox problem slowed their progress, nevertheless they soldiered on to take second place in class.
“It was a testing weekend for us but overall we are very happy with the result. We scored some valuable points and are looking forward to the 2011 season,” concluded Woolridge