Toy­ota-Ford bat­tle re­sumes in Dull­stroom

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - CHARMAINE FOR­TUNE

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.

PHOTO: NADIA JORDAAN

Mar­itzburg’s NWM Ford Ranger raced by Lance Wool­ridge and Ward Huxtable in a bat­tle against the Toy­ota Hilux.

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