Brian Joss –
Rally crew hoping to salvage some championship points.
The Ford Performance team is aiming for a strong showing on the fourth round of the Donaldson Cross Country championship – the Nkomazi 450 that takes place in Malalane, Mpumalanga on Friday and Saturday August 7 and 8.
The Nkomazi event is one of three 450km sprint races in this year’s six-round championship, and is always a festive yet extremely competitive affair.
For the Ford Performance crew, it will hopefully be an opportunity to salvage some championship points after a frustrating outing on the Desert Race in June where the two Class T Rangers suffered numerous driveshaft failures due to an incorrect heat treatment and hardening process by the supplier.
“The cars have been totally stripped down and reassembled after Botswana and we have made some drive train upgrades to both cars as well as some minor suspension changes.”
Neil Woolridge, team principle, points out that Malalane is a relatively short race but never the less very demanding. “Tyre wear is fierce and to complete the whole event on one set of tyres is a challenge.”
“Conditions in this event are similar to those of KwaZulu-Natal, so we are hoping for a great event,” he says. “The organisation of the Malalane race is always superb, so I’m sure we’re in for a great, festive weekend.”
Along with the two Ford Performance Rangers campaigned by Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst (T28) and Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable (T34), one of the team’s ex-factory Rangers has made its way back from Australia and will be competing in the Nkomazi 450 with Aussies John Purshouse and Murray Hynes doing driving and navigating duties, respectively.
This is the same Neil Woolridge Motorsport-built vehicle that powered the factory team of Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst to victory on the Toyota Dealer 450 in Mooi River last year.
Purshouse, a former Australian rally champion, and Hynes won the Mogumber 240 in their domestic championship and achieved fourth place overall in the 2014 Australasian Safari in this Ranger. They are also scheduled to compete in the final two rounds of the South African championship, comprising the Vryburg Endurance in September and the season-ending Atlas Copco Gold 450 in October.
Race headquarters, the start/finish and the designated service park for the Nkomazi 450 will be based at the Riverview Preparatory School on the outskirts of Malalane. The weekend will be made up of a 100km qualifying race to determine grid positions on Friday August 7, and two laps of 175km on the Saturday.