Team Ford Racing claimed its first podium of the 2011 Absa Off Road Championship. The Toyota Dealer 400 took place in the Lydenburg area and proved a test of man and machine thanks to an unforgiving route.

South African champions and relative newcomers to the Ford team, Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst claimed third place in the Production Vehicle category after a gruelling outing that saw many contenders falling out of contention.

Heavy rain falls in the Lydenburg area of late led to the demanding conditions that were characterised by tricky water crossings and hazardous mud puddles. Nevertheless the Team Ford Racing outfit persevered and demonstrated the rugged ability of the Ford Ranger.

“A podium is a great result for us. It was an extremely demanding event with only eight Production Vehicle cars making it to the finish. The result illustrates the overall competitiveness and reliability of the Ranger and bodes well for the coming races.” commented Visser.

Lance Woolridge and navigator Ward Huxtable made their debut in the SP Class at the Lydenburg event. Having joined the national Off Road fray last year when he was just 17, Woolridge has risen through the ranks quickly.

Like so many others Woolridge and Huxtable fell prey to one of the tricky river crossings, with the Ranger’s engine swallowing a great deal of water when crossing the deep water. The team worked hard to rescue the situation at the service point but ultimately the damage to the turbo charger proved terminal for the pair.

“It was a difficult outing for us but we know we have a challenging road ahead of us. Moving up to Class SP is a big adjustment so our aim is to get as many kilometres under our belt as possible. Things didn’t pan out exactly as we had planned this weekend but every experience is a learning one and we will take it all in our stride,” concluded Woolridge.

The next round, the Atlas Copco Battlefields 400 takes place on 20 and 21 May. With the Ford team based in Kwa Zulu Natal the event will be a special one on the calendar and the team will be looking to impress their hometown supporters.