- Ford Ranger takes prologue and first and second place in its global racing debut
- Lance Woolridge wins prologue and cross-country race – youngest person ever to achieve this
The new Ford Ranger made its global racing debut in the opening race of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship and what a race it was!!
Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable took their first prologue on Friday. Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst didn’t fare as well because of fuel line issues – relating to the foam in the tank that is inserted to stop the fuel from ‘sloshing’ around. They finished in 5th place, which was still commendable considering the circumstances.
The actual race was a nail-biter from start to finish. Lance, Christiaan du Plooy (BMW) and Rob Howie (Toyota) traded the top three places multiple times until Howie had punctures and a broken side-shaft and fell back. Then it was Lance versus Christiaan. Near the end of the race, the BMW punctured a tyre and, so close to home, du Plooy made a decision to race on the flat. Less than 10km before the finish line, the tyre disintegrated and the wheel fell apart, damaging the rear, trailing arm. This lost him a finish and the race and Lance and Ward were ready to step in and take the chequered flag after a magnificent drive!
Chris and Japie hovered between 5th and 6th place throughout the day and finally (in the last few stages of the day) moved up and finished in 2nd place. This was in spite of a miss-fire that plagued them the whole day – possibly a carry-over from the prologue. Chris and Japie again showed their experience and maturity by keeping calm, holding their position and waiting for the right moment to make their move. Dust is always a problem but in some ways, Chris used it to his advantage. He kept far back enough from those ahead of him to know what was going on and held those behind him in his wake.
One top five finish would have made our day but two podium finishes in a debut race is nothing short of miraculous! The race was a worthy end to two years of hard slog by a dedicated team and a worthy start to the new racing season. A very proud moment for all of us and one that would not have been possible without the dedication of the designers, the team that built the vehicles, support team that looked after them throughout the race and our sponsors that keep us ‘on the road’: Time Freight, Castrol, Dynotherm, Motorvia, Sign Solutions and Tiger Wheel & Tyre.
A proud day for Ford Racing!!!