Castrol Team Toyota take clean sweep with Atlas Copco 450 win
HAVING already wrapped up the title for the 2015 Donaldson Cross-Country Championship on the previous round, Castrol Team Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and navigator Rob Howie (Toyota Hilux) put the cherry on top this weekend, by winning the Atlas Copco 450, the final round of the 2015 season.
The newly crowned champions qualified in second place, less than two minutes behind former champions and teammates Anthony Taylor and navigator Dennis Murphy, but went on to take the win by six minutes during the main race. This result gives Castrol Team Toyota a clean sweep for the year, having won every qualifying race as well as every round of the year.
Just 34 seconds separated second through to fourth place as the teams blasted through the final timing point of the 2015 championship, having produced the year’ most exciting and closely fought race.
Lance Woolridge/Ward Huxtable wrapped up a solid weekend for the Ford Performance team in fifth place, resulting in three Rangers finishing in the top five overall Production Vehicle results.
After the heart-break of leading last year’s event until an electrical fault stopped their charge almost within sight of the finish line, former Production Vehicle champions Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst powered their Ford Ranger to the runner-up position following a punishing 430 km route staged in the gold mining belt on Gauteng’s West Rand.
It was a good race for the made-in-Maritzburg Fords in general, with the ex-factory Ranger of Australians John Purshouse and Murray Hynes earning a commendable 10th place overall.
Team principal Neil Woolridge said: “This was a great way to end what has been a difficult season for us. We set out firstly to finish the race and secondly to secure a podium result, and we achieved both of these objectives.
“What was really encouraging is that all of our cars were on the pace throughout the race, and the entire event was dictated by the exceptionally tough terrain. “There simply wasn’t any room to make a mistake, and just a single puncture could put you out of the running completely.”
Woolridge thanked Ford, his team, the sponsors and fans for supporting and encouraging the team throughout what has been “a very challenging year”.
The Ford performance team who helped Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (inset) power their Ford Ranger to the podium in the year’s last cross country race over the weekend.