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BATTLE LINES DRAWN FOR #CROSS #COUNTRY RACE IN #DUNDEE
10 May 2017
Ford Motor Company of SA
Ford Motor Company of SA
The Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Puma Lubricants team is ready and eager to continue its campaign in the exciting South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) when the second round of the championship gets underway at the Battlefields 400 on 12 and 13 May.
Based in the historic Dundee area in KwaZulu-Natal, it will be an epic battle amongst the large field of Class T contenders. The Ford NWM Puma Lubricants squad is aiming to lift its game even further after the opening round in Lichtenburg which saw Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer finish a solid second overall.
The hunt for their elusive first Class T victory continues, having secured numerous podium finishes over the past two seasons. But the young pair from Pietermaritzburg have proven their outright pace and consistency and will be challenging for top status in what is effectively their home event in KwaZulu-Natal.
New team-mates and former rally stars Henk Lategan and Barry White showed outstanding adaptability and speed when they earned an impressive third-place finish in their first-ever cross country race. They will be looking to continue this impressive form while settling in behind the controls of the mighty V8-powered Ford Ranger.
Lance Woolridge is hoping to make amends after his less than ideal return to the series, ending seventh last time out along with co-driver Ward Huxtable after two punctures and a faulty jack cost them precious time. The experienced duo are previous race winners, and are intent on scoring maximum points to step up their championship challenge.
“The team is really looking forward to the Battlefields 400, and we are hoping for a good result for all three crews,” says Neil Woolridge, team principal of NWM. “There are only six races this year, so it’s crucial to make each one count.
“Our NWM Ford Rangers ran perfectly in Lichtenburg, so we haven’t had to make any significant changes. We have found a bit more power and will be refining the set-up for Henk’s vehicle when we test at the end of this week, so we’re anticipating a good race.”
The Dundee event will be new to most crews, with the series having last visited the area in 2011. “We’ve had a lot of rain in KwaZulu-Natal recently so the teams will probably have to contend with lots of long grass,” Woolridge states. “The organisers have indicated that the route won’t be as rough as Lichtenburg, but the Battlefields area has some tricky sections with rocks and dongas that the teams will need to watch out for.”
As witnessed at the season-opener, the finishing order is led by the teams with the fewest punctures, and this is sure to be a recurring theme throughout the season. “We used the Pirelli race tyres for the first time in Lichtenburg, and although they are a lot better than the standard 4x4 tyres used last year, they’re not as robust as the full FIA-spec tyres we had previously,” Woolridge adds. “As a result, it’s a balancing act between setting a fast pace while looking after the tyres and not taking chances.”
The short Friday qualifying sprint to determine starting positions for the main race covers just 45km, with the action on Saturday comprising two laps of 160km each separated by a compulsory 20-minute service.
The start/finish, race headquarters and service park are located at the Battlefields Country Lodge and Sports Resort on the outskirts of Dundee, with free access for spectators to these areas and all viewing points along the route.
Fans can follow the action live on the RallySafe app for Apple and Android devices. The app can be downloaded free of charge from the relevant app store, and enables enthusiasts to track the cars on a detailed map, download split times and access results.