The Donaldson cross country championship is set for yet another high-intensity clash when the teams descend on the North-West farming town of Lichtenburg on July 29 and 30 for round four of the series. The two Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Performance crews will be going all-out to secure vital points in the fiercely contested Class T championship.
Brian Joss – Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable (T8) will start the race as front-runners in the current standings after finishing last month’s brutal Botswana Desert Race with a slim single-point advantage over the 4×4 Mega World Toyota of Jason Venter/Vince van Allemann.
Having dominated the short and sharp Vredefort Super Sprint race in May, Visser proved that he is fast out of the blocks in the mighty V8-powered Ford Ranger. And, with the Lichtenburg terrain likely to be similar to that of the season-opener in Vryburg, this event’s 450km sprint format will hopefully extend his consistent run of podium finishes this season, taking him a step closer to the sought after Class T title with a further three events remaining.
Team-mates Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer, in the second NWM Ford Performance Ranger (T7), are currently placed fourth in the standings, six points behind the Nissan of Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson. The young duo has proven their pace and tenacity this season, and a top-three finish would be a major boost for the team.
“We haven’t raced in the Lichtenburg area for many years, but the indications are that it will closely match the Vryburg event with lots of dust to contend with after an extremely dry winter,” says Lance Woolridge, Operations Manager for NWM.
“Once again, this makes the Friday qualifying extremely important, as a front-running starting position will be critical in order to limit the amount of dust the drivers have to contend with. As we’ve seen in recent races, if you’re caught up in the dust of other competitors, there’s basically no way to pass and it ruins the rest of the race.
“All of the cars took a beating in Botswana, so we completely rebuilt both Rangers from top to bottom. Chris and Gareth will effectively have brand new cars for Lichtenburg, and we’re looking forward to a good race,” Woolridge adds.
According to the organisers, the dry and dusty theme will certainly be a dominant factor for the Lichtenburg 450, with the route encompassing mainly harvested maize and cattle grazing fields, along with numerous rocky outcrops.
The action kicks off at 10.30am on Friday at the Lichtenburg showground. The 100km qualifying loop follows the R52 towards Coligny and Puttfontein, then heads north to cross the R52 between Grootpan and Lichtenburg. Competitors make their way west towards Duikerfontein through the rocky outcrops known as Klipveld before turning back towards the showground.
Saturday’s main race commences at 8.30am, comprising two 190km loops separated by the compulsory 20 min service.