Magalies 400 a double for Ford

2012-03-12 13:45

Tarlton, Gauteng – Ford Racing scored a stunning double in the Production Vehicle category at the RFS Magalies 400, Round 1 of the SA National Off-Road championship.

Former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst had a comfortable win over team mates Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable - each crew in a factory Ford Ranger TDCi. Visser and Badenhorst never put a wheel wrong in hot and dusty conditions over the tough route to come home seven minutes ahead of Woolridge and Huxtable.

It was an historic result for Ford Racing - the team's first 1-2 in the series. It was also the perfect start to the season as the first manufacturer to win a South African National event using diesel since team principal Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer  won the Toyota Dealer 400 three seasons earlier.


“We were excited about the car in pre-season testing... and we had a great race,” Visser said. “It was hot, dusty with a very tight and tricky route and the key was not to make mistakes. It’s always nice to win but this was a great team effort and Lance and Ward, along with the technical crew, did a great job.

"We could not have asked for a better start to the year."

Both Ranger teams had solid Donaldson Prologues which on Friday decided start positions. Visser/Badenhorst were second, Woolridge/Huxtable fifth, and by the end of the second of the three loops of the race the two crews were firmly in control.

Prologue winners Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau were early casualties in their Toyota Hilux and Visser and Badenhorst were quickly into a lead they were never to relinquish. Pikkie Labuschagne/Rikus Erasmus (Hilux) and Malcolm Kock/Johan Burger (Hilux) also ran into problems and that moved Woolridge and Huxtable up the race order.

A typically steady performance saw Terence Marsh and George Smalberger (Nissan Navara) take the third podium place.


There was also a good result for Pretoria pair Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren (BMW X3). A strangely subdued Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Hilux), fresh from the Dakar Rally, rounded out the top five only 19sec behind the X3.

Last year’s winners Hannes Grobler and Hennie ter Stege (another X3) were sixth and a steady drive took Hugo de Bruyn and Henri Hugo into seventh (another Hilux). Only 2sec behind them were Cliff Weichelt, who now lives in Perth, and Johann Smalberger who rounded out the top eight and took Class D honours in a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Graham and Trevor Leith brought the first factory Ford Ranger ever built home in ninth and a brave effort saw Anthony Taylor and Chris Birkin (Hilux) squeeze into the top 10. After a disastrous prologue, Taylor and Birkin were forced to set off in the mass start at the back of the field after ripping off a wheel after a confrontation with a large rock.

Class D champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen (Land Rover) missed the prologue but recovered to finish second in Class D.

Class E honours went to Dirk Putter and Koos Claasens (Hilux) with the pair coming home ahead of the Hilux of Diederik Hattingh and Buks Cilliers. Third were Rowan Lamb and Lyle Parker who were having their first National championship outing in a Ford Ranger.

While champagne flowed for Visser and Badenhorst there was disappointment for Visser’s brother Jannie and Joks le Roux in their Hilux; the reigning SA champions, were early casualties with steering problems.

Other high-profile casualties were Mike Whitehouse and Mathew Carlson (Navara and Labuschagne and Erasmus (Hiliux).