Toyota Dealer 450 - Race
Stage distance: Loop 1: 151 km, Loop 2: 151 km, Total: 302 km (398 km including qualifying)
MOOI RIVER, South Africa - Atlas Copco Ford Racing secured a resounding victory on the Toyota Dealer 450 today by claiming first and second overall in the Production Vehicle category.
Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst (T2) followed up their impressive podium finish on the season-opener in March by dominating the second round from start to finish. After claiming pole position in qualifying yesterday, they led the charge from the front and remained unchallenged for the entire race to earn a well-deserved victory.
This outstanding performance has powered the pairing into the lead of the Production Vehicle championship.
Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau (T4) added further glory by coming home second after a tenacious drive from fifth position. Additionally, Ford earned the Manufacturer's Award, giving Atlas Copco Ford Racing a clean sweep of the Production Vehicle results.
The race was staged on an all-new route in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, just outside Mooi River. The area is renowned for its rough conditions, and this was certainly evident in the extremely high attrition rate.
Only half the Production Vehicle field made it to the finish, while only 10 of the 26 entries in the Special Vehicle class completed the arduous 398 km route.
Neil Woolridge (Team Manager - Atlas Copco Ford Racing):
"It was a perfect weekend for Atlas Copco Ford Racing. To win the prologue, finish with a one-two, earn the Manufacturer's Award and then take the championship lead is fantastic, especially when the route was so tough and more than half the competitors dropped out.
"This is effectively our home race in KwaZulu-Natal, so it's great to be able to take the win for our team and fans. Completing such a difficult event without any problems, and not even a single puncture, proves just how good our car is. "We also have a great line-up of drivers and navigators, and the team as a whole has worked incredibly hard for this superb result."
Manfred Schroder (T2):
"I am delight with the win, and felt far more at home in the car than I did on my first outing at the previous race. But I believe this race was effectively won in the workshop.
"The cars went through hell, and we can see that from the number of vehicles that didn't finish. The Ford just sailed through all the rough stuff and came through without a single problem.
"Japie also did a great job navigating in what were very difficult conditions, and it was definitely one of the roughest races we've ever experienced."
Gary Bertholdt (T4):
"We had a great race, and to bring our Atlas Copco Ford Racing Ranger home in second place is a fantastic feeling. "It's a tribute to the team, and the crew did a superb job preparing the car. Siegfried did a faultless job in the navigator's seat this weekend, and it all came together to give us a really good result.
"We really needed it for this race, and to have the team finish with a one-two is a brilliant achievement."