With the Toyota Desert 1000 living up to its reputation as an endurance race for the teams, and a car breaker and claiming a big percentage of the field by its halfway point, the Ford Racing Team was happy to leave Botswana with four of six Ford Racing Rangers completing the gruelling event, and score more valuable points at round 4 of the ABSA Off Road Championship.
Heading up Ford’s attack were points leaders Brandon Harcus and co-driver Juan Mohr who managed to bring their Ranger home fourth in the premier Class SP category. After maintaining a steady third position throughout the last 500km’s of the race, a technical problem a short distance for the finish cost the team valuable minutes and one position, highlighting the competitiveness, quality and speed of the trucks in the SP class.
“It was a great race,” said Harcus who is happy to score some more valuable championship points. “I’m really happy with how well the car held together over such a long distance.”
Finishing one position behind Harcus and Mohr in fifth place were Ford Racing team-mates Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer in their Class SP Ranger. After fighting their way through the field from the word go they had to watch from the side of the road after the starter motor failed. After some assistance from Manfred Schröder and Ward Huxtable in the Absolute, Barloworld SP Ranger to get them back on the road, the service crew replaced the faulty starter during the compulsory 15min pit stop, costing the team a total 30 min time loss.
Skjoldhammer says – “The race was so well organised. We have to thank the club, marshals and officials who put the event together. This is the longest race in the series, and a tremendous effort was put in by all. Our Ranger was fantastic, and we have to thank the service crew for putting in so much time and effort to get us through such a gruelling race. Apart from the starter motor problem in the first 500km’s of the race, causing us to start near the back of the grid, our Ranger was perfect.”
Ford Racing’s third Class SP Ranger entry of Manfred Schröder and Ward Huxtable in their Absolute/Barloworld Ranger was forced to retire with brake system maladies during the second 500km leg of the two day race.
“I’m really disappointed with having to stop,” says Manfred. “Under any other circumstance I’d have kept going. But it’s just too dangerous to carry on without brakes.”
First time SP competitors, Harrismith based Kobus van Tonder and Riaan Guelpa, had a fantastic first half of the race, but had to withdraw during the last section of the 1000km’s.
Current Class E Championship leaders Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro took second position in Class E. Peckham and Santoro have managed to score points consistently over the season so far, which sees them retain the class lead. “We had CV joint troubles that held us up on Saturday, but we managed to make up time on Sunday,” reports Peckham. “The dust was a major problem, and once you get stuck behind somebody, you end up eating it for the rest of the day. The car held up well for us. This is a really rough race for us and our Ranger.”
Newcomers to the ABSA off Road Championship are Botswana businessman, Cor van Os and navigator Eric van Pul, driving their privately entered Class E Ford Ranger, crossed the line in fourth position in class after their maiden drive.
The team would like to thank their supporters and sponsors, Ford, Rockford Fosgate, Time Freight, Harden Auto, Barloworld and Absolute for their continued support.
The Eastern Cape 400 or round 5 of the ABSA off Road Championship is to be held on 27, 28 July in the Eastern Cape.