Toyota-Ford battle resumes in Dullstroom
A beefed-up FIA Class, a Toyota versus Ford battle in Class T and some old and new faces characterise the Production Vehicle category at the Mpumalanga 400 in Dullstroom, the first round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), on the weekend.
But some things don’t change, and the combination to beat remains the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Hilux pair of Giniel de Villiers, the South African champion and fresh from another podium at the Dakar Rally, and Rob Howie who has another Dakar top 10 under his belt.
De Villiers and Howie are a new pairing, but such is their experience — and the domination Toyota Gazoo Racing SA has enjoyed over recent seasons — they must be installed as early championship favourites.
Class T is shaping up as a two-horse battle between Toyota and Ford with a little interference from a pair of youngsters in a BMW X3. Reigning champions Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota Hilux) will again lock horns with Lance Woolridge/ Ward Huxtable and Gareth Woolridge/Boyd Dreyer in a pair of Ford NWM Rangers.
That battle will be like old times, but it will be three against one with the Ford NWM team bolstered by Brazilians Marcus Baumgart and Kleber Cincea, who have signed on for the duration of the championship.
Ford can also call on Jacques van Tonder and Sammy Redelinghuys, but the main interest will centre on the Horn/Woolridge family battle.
The Toyota troops will be bolstered by the experienced Malcolm Kock, who teams up with Sean van Staden, son of Johan van Staden, and a blast from the past in Ramon and Maret Bezuidenhout.
The Bezuidenhouts, who have relocated from the East Rand to Hoedspruit, have bought their original Toyota Hilux from Kock and return to action after a number of years.
The 45 kilometre qualifying race to determine grid positions will start at 1.30 pm with a ceremonial start tomorrow, with the race starting at 8.30 am on Saturday.
The race will be run over a 170 kilometre loop that will be repeated twice.
Race headquarters will be located at the Old Transvaal Inn. Racing can be followed on the gree RallySafe app.
Maritzburg’s NWM Ford Ranger raced by Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable in a battle against the Toyota Hilux.