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(From left) Mark Cronje, Robin Houghton Chris Patterson and Matthew Wilson took a one-two finish.
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 Ford Dominates Sasol Rally     

DATE: Will be calculated from "Release Start Date" field.

PRETORIA, South Africa — Team Ford Racing’s Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (S2000 Ford Racing Fiesta) clinched victory on this weekend’s Sasol Rally ahead of Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson in the sister Ford Fiesta in what was Ford’s second successive one-two finish.

Wilson, a former WRC competitor is the son of Malcolm Wilson the owner of M-Sport and the designer and builder of Cronje’s car. Wilson made a once-off guest appearance on this weekend’s National Rally Championship event driving in Cronje’s spare car.

“We invited Malcolm Wilson to come out and observe the race and assist the team with fine-tuning the car when we heard that his son Matthew would be coming out to compete alongside us,” explained Cronje.

Cronje and Wilson dominated the weekend’s event with Wilson taking the early lead and Cronje surging ahead on the second day to take the overall win. 

“I’ve never been scared in a rally car before but there was just no traction out there on some stages,” explained the reigning SA champ.

Cronje was referring to the inclement weather that characterised the event. Non-stop rain saw the drivers and their vehicles put to the ultimate test with the torrential downpours leading to the cancellation of some stages.

The adverse weather caused a number of mechanical ailments for the competitors. Cronje’s alternator sanded up as a result of the excessive mud. The team replaced it during the second service in record time thanks to some assistance from the international M-Sport technicians that were visiting for the event.

Jan Habig and Robert Paisley in the third Ford Fiesta struggled with a misfire in what proved to be a difficult outing for the pair.

“It was just one of those weekends where in spite of everything, nothing seemed to go our way,” commented Habig after the event.

Despite the challenges they were able to bring the car home in sixth place.

“It was another fantastic outing for the Ford teams,” said Team Ford Racing Manager John Nagel. “We were privileged to have the Matthew and Chris together with the M-Sport team here for the weekend. It was a great opportunity to learn from them. The weather gave the team their fair share of issues but they rose to the challenge and worked through the cold, wet and rainy conditions to secure another fantastic result.”

The next round of the championship, the Gauteng Dealer Rally gets underway on 31 May. Cronje and Houghton will be looking to further extend their championship lead in front of their home crowd. 

  

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4/23/2013 6:00 AM