|Donaldson CC: Pole position for Atlas Copco Ford Racing at Toyota Dealer 450|
Atlas Copco Ford Racing claimed pole position in the Production Vehicle class for the "Toyota Dealer 450" rally in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal, second round of the South African "Donaldson Cross Country Championship".
On the second all-new route in as many races, Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst powered the mighty Ford Ranger to the front of the Class T category, 1:38 minutes ahead of championship leaders Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Toyota Hilux) who completed today's (Friday) 96,2 km qualifying loop seventh overall and third in Class T.
As a result, Schroder and Badenhorst will set off as the lead production vehicle for the main race tomorrow, a mere 20 seconds behind the Motorite BAT buggy of Evan Hutchinson/Danie Stassen who set the fastest time overall and in the Special Vehicle category. Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau qualified fifth in the SP class in the second Atlas Copco Ford Racing entry and will set off 12th overall.
"Having Manfred and Japie on pole is a fantastic start to the weekend and we couldn't have asked for much better. Although Gary and Siegfried lost a bit of time and ended fifth in Class T, they should be able to make up several places tomorrow," said Neil Woolridge, Ford Team Manager.
"Both Rangers returned from the prologue with nothing wrong, which is a testament to the strength and durability of the car, especially after so many people rolled out and broke down. We are quietly confident of a good result, but the route is going to be very difficult. So we can't get ahead of ourselves and need to ensure that we bring the cars home."
Manfred Schroder said: "I certainly didn't expect to be on pole in the Production Vehicle class, but I'm very happy with it. We had a clean run and the Ranger performed beautifully. Japie also did a great job of keeping us on the right track. The route is extremely rough with lots of rocks and ruts, so you have to be extremely cautious. Sometimes the track looks nice and smooth but there's always something ready to catch you out. I believe that the route tomorrow is going to be even more challenging, so it's going to be tough out there."
Gary Bertholdt reported: "It was a tough qualifying loop for us as we really struggled with the road book, and the marking was also quite bad. The Ranger was really good, but we're just not going to go flat-out when effectively driving blind, especially with all the long grass. There are treacherous areas out there, as evidenced with all the broken cars we passed along the way. We should be able to make up a couple of places early tomorrow and then take the fight to the front."
Tomorrow (Saturday), the first competitor sets off from the Weston Agricultural College in Mooi River at 08:30 in the morning. The teams complete two identical loops of 151 km, separated by a mandatory 15 minute service. The second loop commences at 10:46, and the first car is expected to cross the finish line back at Weston College at 12:47.
2014/04/04 | 20:39 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/JOHN NAGEL