|Donaldson CC: Factory teams to fight it out at SA´s RD2 "Nkomazi 400"|
The two factory teams in the Production Vehicle category of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship look set for an intriguing duel on the Nkomazi 400, round two of the series, on the fringes of the Kruger National Park on April 12 and 13.
The event, a new one on the calendar, will be based at Malalane in Mpumalanga and an even battlefield adds extra intrigue to the battle between the Ford Racing and Team Castrol Toyota Hilux teams. It is a rivalry that is likely to spill over into the rest of the season.
Ford Racing, under former South African champion Neil Woolridge, drew first blood with the new Ford Ranger scoring a stunning one/two on debut on the RFS 400 in the Magaliesburg area. Woolridge’s son, Lance, and co-driver Ward Huxtable led home team-mates and former South African champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst.
It was a repeat of last year’s RFS 400 result and one that saw Woolridge become the youngest driver to win a national cross country race.
For the Castrol Toyota squad under team principal Glyn Hall the opening event was a disappointment. Toyota stalwart Anthony Taylor and new co-driver Dennis Murphy eked out a fifth place, with reigning South African champions Duncan Vos and Rob Howie struggling home in 10th place after an unhappy day at the office.
There will be a great deal of pride at stake for both teams, but that simply adds to the prospect of a no holds barred clash. Both teams, too, will be well aware of the threat posed by a horde of privateer teams out in a variety of ex factory Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux entries.
The Ford and Toyota privateers will be bolstered by the powerful Regent Racing Nissan Navara squad, and Pretoria pair Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren in the RFS BMW X3. Before hitting a rock that forced them out with suspension damage du Plooy and Janse van Vuuren were involved in a tremendous battle with Woolridge and Huxtable.
On the Special Vehicle front the rivalry is more of a provincial nature. KwaZulu-Natal teams filled three of the first four places on the RFS 400 and teams from the rest of the country will be out for revenge.
Clint Gibson and Gary Campbell (Dirt Sport Component Porter) led the KZN charge ahead of reigning SA champions Evan Hutchison and Danie Stassen (Motorite BAT Venom) with Lance Trethewey/Carl Wichmann (LT Earthmovers BAT) and Daniel Brookes/Gavan Gray (Ducatus Property BAT) third and fourth.
A field loaded with quality will include SA champions in Quintin and Kallie Sullwald (Elegant Fuel BAT Venom) and Hermann and Wichard Sullwald (Elegant Fuel Stryker) and another father/son combination in Nick and Ryan Harper in a second Motorite BAT Venom. Teams who feel they under achieved on the RFS 400 will also be on the warpath, with neutral territory again adding to all the ifs and buts that accompany motor races.
Race headquarters and the designated service area on the Nkomazi 400 will be at the Riverview Preparatory School in Malalane.
Public entrance to these areas and spectator points along the route will be free of charge with spectator guides available at race headquarters and at Malalane Toyota. The prologue on Friday, April12 to determine grid positions will start at 12:30 and the race on Saturday, 13 April at 08:30.
2013/03/22 | 13:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/FORTUNE