Round two of the ABSA Off Road Championship took place this weekend in Kwa Zulu Natal. The event, the inaugural running of the Hluhluwe 400, proved to be a thrilling affair. Brandon Harcus and Juan Mohr in their Class SP Ranger was the first Ford pairing home after a dramatic day’s racing.
Harcus and Mohr were involved in an unfortunate incident when they were hit side on by another competitor. Though the vehicle was severely damaged the pair soldiered on, and thanks to the hard work of the Ford crew they worked their way up to finish third overall.
“It’s been an exciting day’s racing,” said Harcus at the finish. “The route was very quick and there were a number of incidents throughout the field. The team did a great job in preparing the Ranger and we’re pleased to have a podium finish in only our second SP event.”
The pairing weren’t the only Ford crew involved in incidents during the course of the race. Team leaders Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer were feeling confident after finishing third in Friday’s prologue however drama was soon to unfold.
The Woolridge and Skjoldhammer challenge was cut short when they were caught up in a three-car pile-up.
“Following a very competitive prologue, the cars set off from the start with the minimum gap separating them. This combined with the tricky road conditions resulted in an unusual number of collisions. We ran wide into a corner, and before we could right ourselves, the first of three special vehicles slammed into us.”
The damage from the triple impact saw the Ford duo forced into early retirement.
Manfred Schröder and Ward Huxtable in the third SP Ford Ranger didn’t escape unscathed either. Ironically they collided with the third vehicle that had run into Woolridge and Skjoldhammer.
“In the process of trying to free the vehicle in the aftermath of the accident, the vehicle reversed, catching us unawares, and we collided with their vehicle. Thankfully the damage wasn’t fatal and we were able to continue.”
Schröder and Huxtable finished in sixth place in the SP class.
Representing Team Ford Racing in Class E, Jack Peckham and Lucio Santoro had their fair share of challenges on the event. But in spite of broken clutch they were able to complete the race.
“We had some problems in the closing stages of the event but we managed to hang on until the finish and took fourth place in class.”
“It’s been one of the most dramatic events in recent memory,” explained Woolridge after the race. “The varying conditions combined with the close starting order resulted in a high attrition rate. Amazingly no one was seriously injured a testament to the strength and safety of the cars.”
“It was a pity that all the SP cars got tangled up in events, however in spite of the incidents two of the vehicles were still able to continue on to the finish. Once again the cars were faultless and proved to be competitive so we are looking forward to improving on our position in the next event.”