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Nkomazi 400 set to sizzle

2013-04-05 12:57

CHALLENGE HEATING UP: Ford Ranger team Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable will be one of a few pairs to keep an eye on at the 2013 South African Cross-Country championship.


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Ford Racing has a tough act to follow on the Nkomazi 400, Round 2 and a new race on the 2013 South African Cross-Country championship calendar, in Mpumalanga over April 12/13.

The event, based in Malelane, adds an extra dollop of intrigue to the Production Vehicle battle between the Ford Racing and Toyota factory teams and the storm of privateers in BMW, Ford, Toyota and Nissan Navara machinery.


A stunning double on debut for the new Ford Ranger, with Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable leading home former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst on the RFS 400, has thrown the ball into the opposition court.

How the opposition reacts will set the stage for a dramatic weekend as they’re led by the Toyota Hilux entries of reigning champions Duncan Voss/Rob Howie and Anthony Taylor/Dennis Murphy. More Ford dominance will be a psychological blow for the Toyota team but this is not just a contest between two factorys.

The privateers have plenty of ammunition and North West pair Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger (Toyota Hilux) will be looking for a repeat of the form that saw them on the podium on the RFS 400. Other dangerous Hilux entries are Gary Bertholdt/Siegfried Rousseau, former champions Jannie Visser/Joks le Roux, Johan van Staden/Mike Lawrenson and Deon Venter/Ian Palmer.

There is also a strong line-up of Ford privateers led by Louw de Bruin/Riaan Greyling, Gerald le Roux/Hendrik Badenhorst in Rangers. kwaZulu-Natal crew Rowan Lamb and Lyle Parker will make their first appearance in a Ranger and their team throws two cars into the fray for Kobus van Tonder/Freddie Kriel and brother/sister Jacques and Lizelle Van Tonder.

Nissan also has a formidable privateer line-up led by the Terence Marsh/Gerhard Schutte, Mike Whitehouse/Matthew Carlson and Thomas Rundle/Juan Mohr. Marsh/Schutte and Whitehouse/Carlson will be out in V8 models and will be looking to up their games.

Germans Jurgen and Daniel Schroder also form part of the stable in a Navara, along with Archie Rutherford and Roxy Louw in another Navara. International model, film, TV and surfing star Roxy joins the list of celebrity co-drivers to sit alongside the unflappable Rutherford.


The biggest threat, however, could come from RFS BMW pair Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren. Before suspension damage ended their RFS 400 challenge the Pretoria pair were running neck and neck with Woolridge/Huxtable, and that should be worth a flutter for any betting man.

New races on the calendar bring them an air of the unexpected. That simply adds another twist to a premier Class SP battle that is loaded with potential for drama.

Two brothers will be desperate to take the honours in Class D - Johan and Werner Horn (Toyota Land Cruiser) grew up in Malelane and apart from sentimental value a win for the pair would kick start their championship campaign. They failed to finish the RFS 400 so there's a double incentive for the brothers on home soil.

Their biggest threat comes in the form of RFS 400 winners Jason Venter/Vincent van Allemann (Hilux) and former champions Jack and Sarel Oosthuizen in a Land Rover. The two crews offer interesting contrasts with the former champions reliability specialists.

With eight wins from the previous nine events Dirk Putter/Koos Claasens will be favourite in Class E in a Ranger. Their toughest challenge will come from the Hilux of Luke Botha/Kevin Durston.

The route for the Nkomazi 400 is both spectacular and spectator-friendly with race HQ and the service park at the Riverview Preparatory School in Malelane. Public entrance to these areas and spectator points along the route will be free with spectator guides available at race HQ and Malelane Toyota.

A prologue starting at 12.30pm on Friday April 12, 2013 will determine grid positions. Racing will start on Saturday at 8.30am

Read more on:    toyota  |  ford  |  mpumalanga  |  nissan  |  bmw

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