Ford 1-2 in opening off-roader

2013-03-03 18:39

TARLTON - Ford Racing could not have wished for a better debut for the new Ranger when Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable and former South African champions Chris Visser/Japie Badenhorst produced a fairy-tale Production Vehicle 1-2 from  the RFS 400.

It was the first round of the 2013 SA Cross-Country championship run from Tarlton in Gauteng.

The two crews gave Ford the same result in 2012, except then it was Visser/Badenhorst who finished comfortably ahead of young Woolridge and the experienced Huxtable.


It was the first - and record - National win for a delighted Woolridge (21), son of Ford Racing team principal and former South African champion Neil Woolridge who became the youngest winner of a National championship cross-country race.

A win on the Friday prologue to determine race start positions and a win in the race itself provided the Pietermaritzburg youngster with a perfect weekend. Huxtable is a former Class E National champion but this was also his first taste of overall victory in the premier SP Class.

The Ford party was, ironically, almost spoilt by Visser’s cousin Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger, in a Toyota Hilux. At the finish the factory Ford pair had a scant five second advantage over the North West crew who missed the later part of 2012.


Woolridge and Huxtable fought a running battle with Christiaan du Plooy/Henk Janse van Vuuren (BMW X3) over the first of the two 160km loops of the race. Du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren led the Ford by four seconds at the compulsory 15-minute stop at the halfway mark.

The battle ended on lap two when Plooy and Vuuren hit a rock and damaged the BMW’s rear suspension. When reigning SA champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Hilux) had a puncture and then broke a sideshaft Woolridge was comfortably clear.

Fourth went to Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau (Hilux) who were just over a half-minute behind Kock/Burger. Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy (Hilux) also provided fireworks as they scythed their way from 16th on the road among the Production Vehicles to complete the top five.

Another fine drive saw North West youngsters Jason Venter/Vincent van Allemann (Hilux) finish sixth overall and win Class D a long way ahead of second-placed ex-champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (Land Rover) who eked out another finish.

Behind Venter/Allemann were Free Staters Louw de Bruin and Riaan Greyling, seventh first time out in one of the ex-factory Rangers; Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson (Hilux) completed the top eight in the first Production Vehicle race.


Former champions Jannie Visser (brother of Chris) and Joks le Roux (Hilux) took ninth just ahead of the unfortunate Vos and Howie. After a character-building day Vos finished 13 seconds behind the  North West crew.

There was also another workmanlike performance from ex-South African champion Archie Rutherford and one-time Idols winner Heinz Winckler (Nissan Navara). They finished 13th with Winckler just missing out on a top 10 finish.

Reigning Class E champions Dirk Putter/Koos Claasens won seven of eight races in 2012 in a Hilux. They were back to winning ways this weekend – but this time in a Ford Ranger as the only finishers in the category.

The next round of the Donaldson Cross-Country championship will be the Nkomazi 400, a new race on the calendar, in Malalane over April 12/13.

  • Kwashic - 2013-03-04 18:07

    Yippeeee Go Ford!

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