Poul­ter and Howie re­main un­beaten

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - CHAR­MAINE FOR­TUNE

MALALANE — Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA pair Leeroy Poul­ter and Rob Howie kept their un­beaten record this sea­son when they romped to vic­tory at the Nko­mazi 450, round five of the Don­ald­son Cross Coun­try Mo­tor Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship, last week­end.

In a Toy­ota Hilux run­ning in the FIA class, Poul­ter and Howie had over 14 min­utes to spare on lo­cal he­roes Jo­han and Werner Horn.

In their best re­sult of the sea­son the Horn broth­ers, much to the de­light of the lo­cal fans, brought the Malalane Toy­ota Hilux home in sec­ond place to win Class T for ve­hi­cles over four litres with solid axle rear sus­pen­sion.

Third place went to Jo­han van Staden and Mike Lawren­son in a Red-Lined Nis­san Navara. There was a three-minute gap be­tween the Horns and Van Staden/ Lawren­son.

The most sig­nif­i­cant re­tire­ment came when An­thony Tay­lor and De­nis Mur­phy were forced to throw in the towel. The for­mer cham­pi­ons ran into pow­er­steer­ing prob­lems in the sec­ond of the Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA en­tries.

The race, backed by Malalane Toy­ota and RCL Foods, and run in warm spring con­di­tions drew spec­ta­tors in their droves. And, de­spite a 10 minute penalty for fail­ing to stop at a road cross­ing, pre­race favourites Poul­ter and Howie did not dis­ap­point their sup­port­ers, with the Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA team un­beaten since the start of the 2015 sea­son.

Fourth place and third in Class T went to Gareth Wool­ridge and Boyd Dreyer in the Neil Wool­ridge Mo­tor­sport/Ford Per­for­mance Ranger. It was their first out­ing since the Ranger was se­verely dam­aged in a fire at the NWM work­shop in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

The punc­ture-rid­dled race also saw Class T cham­pi­onship lead­ers Ja­son Ven­ter and Vince van Alle­mann (4x4 Mega World Toy­ota Hilux) and the Gary Bertholdt and Philip Hersel­man (At­las Copco) fin­ish ahead of Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable in a sec­ond NWM/Ford Per­for­mance Ranger. With only two rounds of the cham­pi­onship left, the NWM/Ford Per­for­mance pair now face an up­hill task in Class T.

Team prin­ci­pal Neil Wool­ridge said it was a good week­end over­all, es­pe­cially for Gareth Wool­ridge and Dreyer af­ter miss­ing the last race. They got a solid third, which is great to see af­ter the hard work ev­ery­one put in.

“The team thought I was mad three weeks ago when I said that we should re­build Gareth’s car af­ter the fire, and have it at Malalane.

“But they all pulled to­gether and worked ex­cep­tion­ally hard to get the car ready for this event. It was lit­er­ally fin­ished on [the] Wed­nes­day be­fore the race and loaded on the truck that evening. We had no prob­lems at all with the ve­hi­cle dur­ing the en­tire race, which is a fan­tas­tic re­sult for what is ef­fec­tively a brand new car. The team has re­ally done us all proud,” said Wool­ridge.

Gareth Wool­ridge said: “We had a re- ally good first lap and we were run­ning sec­ond on lap two, so I was re­ally op­ti­mistic and ex­cited about that. But with the tyres tak­ing a beat­ing I didn’t want to risk drop­ping off the podium so I played it safe and fin­ished third. I had one punc­ture in roughly the same place as the cars in front of us, so we all landed up re­plac­ing tyres to­gether, which was ac­tu­ally quite funny.

“The ter­rain was rough and hard, and there was sim­ply no mar­gin for er­ror when go­ing even slightly off the track. Once the soil had been dug away by all the cars af­ter qual­i­fy­ing and the first loop, it left an abra­sive rock sur­face that just chewed up the tyres.

“Other than the punc­tures, it was a good race and the car was bril­liant, run­ning fault­lessly through­out the race.”

The pair of “loan rangers”, Chris Visser and Ward Huxtable in their bor­rowed T8 Ranger, per­haps showed too much re­spect for the tyres dur­ing the first loop and lost time with a bent jack point, but af­ter putting foot on the sec­ond loop they iron­i­cally had only one punc­ture de­spite go­ing faster, said Visser. • The next leg of the na­tional cham­pi­onship cross coun­try race is the Sun City 450 at Pi­lanes­berg on Septem­ber 30 and Oc­to­ber 1.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Loan rangers: Chris Visser and nav­i­ga­tor Ward Huxtable in their bor­rowed Ranger.

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