The next VDubb

Mar­itzburg’s Ranger rac­ers hunt­ing third win in gru­elling Toy­ota Desert Run

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN MILEMAN

meet­ing at the Vin­tage Sports Car Club in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg is on July 14, start­ing from 11 am. All Bee­tles, Kom­bis, Ghias or any VW older than 20 years wel­come.

MAR­ITZBURG’s Ford Neil Wool­ridge Mo­tor­sport (NWM) team head to Botswana next week with the aim of claim­ing their third con­sec­u­tive vic­tory in the 2018 South African Cross Coun­try Se­ries (SACCS).

The an­nual Toy­ota Kala­hari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is the third round of the cham­pi­onship and takes place in Jwa­neng from 22 to 24 June. It is Botswana’s big­gest sport­ing event of the year, with a mas­sive turnout of en­thu­si­as­tic spec­ta­tors all along the route.

“The Botswana Desert Race is al­ways ex­tremely tough on the ve­hi­cles and the crews as it’s ba­si­cally two races in one week­end,” says Neil Wool­ridge, NWM team prin­ci­pal.

“The ter­rain is very chal­leng­ing with a mix of ex­tremely tight sec­tions through dense bush, along with long, flat-out roads with soft sand.

“We have to­tally re­built all three Rangers in prepa­ra­tion for Botswana as the muddy con­di­tions ex­pe­ri­enced in the first two races is very hard on com­po­nents, and we need to make sure there aren’t any re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues. Tyres play a huge role in this race, and in the past two years we’ve had to set­tle for sec­ond place due to punc­tures,” Wool­ridge adds. “Our pace is re­ally good this season, so as long as we can min­imise our tyre trou­bles, we should be able to do well.”

Lance Wool­ridge and Ward Huxtable (T34) are in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of lead­ing the Class T stand­ings, hav­ing shown im­pec­ca­ble form by win­ning the first two races of 2018 in their NWM Ford Ranger.

With the prospect of dou­ble points up for grabs on the only three­day 1 000km marathon race on the cal­en­dar, they are aim­ing to max­imise the ad­van­tage and will be­gin the Desert Race with 60 points — 25 more than reign­ing cham­pi­ons and sec­ond-placed Jo­han and Werner Horn (Malalane Toy­ota).

“We’re hop­ing to carry our win­ning form into the Desert Race this year, and fi­nally take the top step of the podium af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond to the Horn broth­ers in 2017,” Lance Wool­ridge adds. “We have great mo­men­tum this season, and this event is a cru­cial one for the cham­pi­onship.”

Hav­ing rounded off the Desert Race podium last year with third place over­all in Class T, Gareth Wool­ridge and co-driver Boyd Dreyer (T77) are fo­cus­ing on trans­form­ing their out­stand­ing qual­i­fy­ing pace into a de­cent points haul.

They are cur­rently sev­enth in the fiercely com­pet­i­tive cham­pi­onship af­ter re­tir­ing at the season-opener in Mpumalanga, and limp­ing home to fifth place at the Bat­tle­fields 400 in Dundee.

The X Rally Team of Mar­cos Baum­gart and Kle­ber Cincea (T20) re­turn to the SACCS in the third NWM Ford Ranger full of con­fi­dence af­ter ex­tend­ing their lead in the Brazil­ian cross coun­try cham­pi­onship.

Hav­ing scored a clean sweep of vic­to­ries thus far in their do­mes­tic se­ries in a near-iden­ti­cal Ranger, they were also re­warded with a third-place fin­ish at the Mpumalanga race. Ac­cord­ingly, Baum­gart and Cincea are keen to make up lost ground af­ter miss­ing the Dundee event due to a clash of cal­en­dars.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­gan­is­ers, the 2018 Desert Race route mixes the old with the new. Fri­day’s short qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion com­prises a 50km time trial, with the main race com­pris­ing two 225 km loops and the sec­ond part on Sun­day of two loops of a 220km route. Fans can fol­low the ac­tion on the free Ral­lySafe app.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Lance Wool­ridge and Ward Huxtable aim to bring home to Mar­itzburg a third con­sec­u­tive win from the an­nual Toy­ota Kala­hari Botswana 1000 Desert Race next week­end.

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