Team Ford Racing is eagerly anticipating showing the people of Lesotho what it means for vehicles to be “Built Ford Tough”. This is exactly what the team is planning to do when it participates in three classes at the Lesotho Sun 400.

The Lesotho Sun 400, round five of the 2004 Absa Off Road Championship, takes place in the mountain kingdom on 20 and 21 August.

It is an excited group of men who are heading to Lesotho for the aptly named Lesotho Sun 400, which is considered by some to be the pinnacle event on the South African racing calendar. With no changes to the teams or their vehicles, Team Ford Racing is aiming high and is unlikely to be disappointed. “With two experienced and one up-and coming team driving three top-notch Ford Rangers, nothing but good can come out of these partnerships,” comments Neil Woolridge, team manager.

Regular Class T entrants, Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer, have not competed in Lesotho since 2001, which is the last time that a South African championship off-road racing took place there. However they are certainly expecting a great race. “It’s a beautiful country and at this time of year the weather is ideal,” says Woolridge. “The Ford Ranger is running well and I have no reason to expect anything but the best.” Coming out of the Sun City race there were no major problems and the vehicle is undergoing just routine maintenance.

The race is expected to combine tough, rocky terrain with bursts of speed racing in between, which will put the Ford Ranger to the test. “The Ranger definitely performs better in the tighter, tougher sections, but I firmly believe that it will handle the speedier sections with relative ease,” notes Woolridge. “Our Ranger is a truly impressive vehicle.”

The newly developed Class D four-litre Ford Ranger, campaigned by Manfred Schröder and Jack Peckham, is experiencing a few, minor teething problems, but that is to be expected of a vehicle which is still being developed.

“We can’t get everything right the first time round, so we are not worried,” comments driver, Manfred Schröder. “We are investigating some changes to the gearbox, but the car will be ready to race. I am looking forward to racing in Lesotho, as I have never been into the country before and will rely on my navigator, Jack Peckham, for his expert guidance.”

The tough course is ideally suited to the 4-litre Ranger and its tyres (which have been sponsored by BF Goodrich and fitted to both this Ranger and Woolridge’s Ranger) are expected to make the world of difference. “Those tyres can handle absolutely anything you throw at them,” confirms Schröder. “Their performance has been extraordinary during the 2004 championship, complementing the ability of our ultra-tough Ranger.”

After a challenging run at Sun City (which turned out to be a lot tougher than most teams anticipated), the development team of Baphumze (Bappie) Rubuluza and Kulile Vakalisa are planning on taking it easy at the Lesotho Sun 400. They will campaign their Ford Ranger in the competitive Class E.

“Sun City was the first race at which we were unable to obtain a finisher’s badge. While we did finish the race, we were unfortunately time barred – and we are both disappointed,” says Vakalisa. “Since we have been informed that the Lesotho race is extremely tough, we are not going to be chasing anybody, but rather we will focus our attention on the finish line, and use this as an opportunity to regain our confidence.” With numerous previous successful races under its belt, there is little doubt that the development team will find it’s footing again and continue to take the racing world by storm.

The team would like to thanks its generous sponsors for their continued support. The Class T Ranger is sponsored by BF Goodrich Tyres, Time Freight and Joey's (panel beaters and painting). The Class D Ranger is sponsored by BF Goodrich, Time Freight, Joey's, Barloworld PMB and Husqvarna Forest and Garden (chainsaws). The development team is supported by Pirelli, Time Freight and Joey's. “It’s companies like these that have helped to make off road racing what it is. Without their ongoing support, we would never have been able to achieve our considerable successes in the 2004 season,” concludes Woolridge.