PRETORIA, South Africa — Team Ford Racing continued to demonstrate the pace of the new racing Ford Rangers at the third round of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship. Former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst tussled for the lead throughout the event, eventually finishing in second place.
The race, which took place in Eston Pietermaritzburg, is significant in that the Cross Country Rangers were designed and built in Pietermaritzburg, effectively making it a home event for the team.
With a good turnout of local supporters the team was eager to deliver a strong result.
Visser and Badenhorst put in a solid performance during Friday’s prologue session in what were cold, wet and muddy conditions. While the weather cleared for the start of the race the route remained slippery and muddy throughout the event.
The pair battled for the lead with Anthony Taylor and Chris Murphy but eventually finished in a well-deserved second place.
“We would have loved to have won,” said Visser. “But in the end we were happy to play it safe and take second place rather than trying anything too risky.”
Teammates Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable had a more trying weekend. Taking to the field very early in the day for the prologue session, they experienced the worst of the muddy track putting them in 12th position for the start of the race. They made great progress when the race got underway, moving up to fourth place but ultimately a clutch failure put an end to their weekend.
“It wasn’t the best weekend for us but every experience is a learning opportunity and so we can’t be too disappointed,” said Woolridge.
“Overall we are pleased with the results,” commented Ford Racing Manager John Nagel. “We would have loved another win but the battle at the front was extremely close. It is good for spectators and the sport in general to have two teams competing so closely for pole positions.”
The next round of the championship, the 1000 Desert Race, is the most anticipated of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship events. With points and a half up for grabs, a win in the Botswana-based event is more coveted than most.
“We are very proud of the teams’ achievements and are definitely setting our sights on a Desert Race win. It is the most challenging event on the calendar and with extra points on the line there is everything to play for,” concluded team manager Neil Woolridge.