This weekend's Toyota Dealer 400 formed the penultimate round of the 2006 ABSA Off Road Championship.
However Ford Racing's Manfred Schroder and Ward Huxtable can now rest easy as they cemented the Class E Championship following a second place finish in class.
Fate, however was not so kind to team mat'?s Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldammer. The pair arrived at the Mpumalanga event in a strong championship position, however following an unfortunate mechanical difficulty the team will now have it all to do in the final round.
Woolridge and Skjoldhammer lost over an hour on Saturday morning due to a broken output shaft on the front diff. The crew was forced to strip much of the front suspension in an attempt to get the Ranger back to a competitive state. The team did a fantastic job in getting the vehicle repaired, and the pair back into the race.
"We've had virtually no mechanical failures this season," commented a somewhat despondent Woolridge after the race. "It's unfortunate that we are having our misfortune at this very important stage of the championship, however we can hardly complain at such an impeccable run. To date we have still finished every round of this year's championship a testament to the strength and durability of the Ford Ranger."
Rob Gurney and Graeme Stainbank had another strong showing in the sister SP Ford Ranger finishing fifth overall and fifth in class.
"The Ranger was once again fantastic. At one point we were running in third place and were looking for a podium finish however we lost drive in the closing stages when the front diff broke. The last loop had some very technical sections and with very little drive we lost a lot of time, that said we were happy to take fifth place and once again bring our Ranger to the finish line," explained Gurney at the finish.
Manfred Schröder and Ward Huxtable were happy to take 2nd in class in their Class E Ford Ranger and in so doing confirm their championship status. The pair has dominated Class E throughout this year with a string of wins and consistent finishes.
"We lost some time this morning getting through the river crossing. A bit of a traffic jam had formed and in the end we took a very long way around. Nevertheless we made it through and put on a strong charge. We also had to tend to a torn CV boot, but once we had that repaired we had a trouble free run to take second place in class," said Schroder.
The final round of the ABSA Off Road Championship, the Ford Carnival City 400, takes place in just three weeks time. Team Ford Racing will be going all out to end the year in style in front of the Gauteng based crowd.
"It has certainly been a day of mixed emotions. Kenny and I were hoping to haul in some points in our title fight, unfortunately it was not be today. On the positive side, all three Rangers made it to the finish and of course Manfred and Ward have the Class E Championship in the bag. Overall we've had a very strong year and we hope to finish on a high note at the Ford Carnival City 400," concluded team manager Woolridge.
We would like to thank all our sponsors, Ford, Rockford Fosgate, Time Freight and Harden Auto for their continued support.