AUSPICIOUS DEBUT FOR NEW FORD RANGER
Tarlton, Friday – There was an auspicious debut for the new Ford Racing Ranger today when Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable won the prologue to determine grid positions for tomorrow’s RFS 400, round one of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in the Magaliesburg.
Woolridge and Huxtable cut it fine, however, and only had three seconds in hand over Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the RFS BMW X3.The RFS pair were just over 24 seconds ahead of reigning champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in the first of the factory Castrol Toyota Hilux entries.
“The route was good, the car was good and we had a good afternoon,” said Woolridge. “Hopefully it goes our way again tomorrow.”
Vos and Howie took a conservative approach and reported no problems. They were 11 seconds clear of Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr, in the Barden Tyre Services Nissan Navara, who made an impressive return to racing after missing most of last season.
They eased in ahead of former champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst in the second of the new Ford Rangers. They lost a minute or so in thick sand which also caught out Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy is the second factory Toyota who lost over six minutes.
A good run took Deon Venter and Ian Palmer Trysome Racing Toyota Hilux into seventh with the pair credited with the same time as Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau in the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux. The Atlas Copco pair looked good for a podium position when a sideshaft broke a kilometre from the finish and they were forced to limp home.
Venter/Palmer and Bertholdt/Rousseau also cut it fine and had three seconds to spare over Mike Whitehouse and Matthew Carlson who were having their first outing in the new V8 Regent Racing Nissan Navara.
They were followed home by former SA champion Archie Rutherford who sharing the Imperial Automotive Nissan Navara with former Idols winner and singer/entertainer Heinz Winckler. The Navara’s odometer packed in five kilometres into the route and Rutherford was full of praise for Winckler’s performance.
The Class D battle went the way of Mpumalanga brothers Johan and Werner Horn in the Malalane Toyota Land Cruiser. They came in ahead of North West youngster Jason Venter and Vincent van Allemann (Trysome Racing Toyota Hilux) with former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen running into mechanical problems in the LMC Land Rover.
After winning seven of eight events last year in a Toyota Hilux the veteran pair of Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens again led the way in Class E – this time in a Ford Ranger. There were well clear of Douglas Fear and Tony Krause in the Bryton Removals Toyota Hilux.
Tomorrow’s race starts at 8:30 at Tarlton International Raceway.