Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst led the Ford Racing team to victory at round 1 of this year’s off-road championship in Gauteng with their Ranger TDCi. Their team mates Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable took second place, while Terence Marsh and George Smalberger (Regent Racing Nissan Navara) took the final podium spot.
The big triumph, of course, is that this is Ford’s first double in this national series. All weekend, both Rangers were on point despite the treacherous conditions, but it was Visser and Badenhorst who pulled ahead of the field – eventually finishing seven minutes ahead of the second Ranger.
“We were excited about the car in pre season testing and we had a great race. It was hot, dusty with a very tight and tricky route and the key was not to make mistakes. It’s always nice to win but this was a great team effort and Lance (Woolridge) and Ward (Huxtable), along with the technical crew, did a great job. We could not have asked for a better start to the year.
Visser and Badenhorst snatched the lead after Gary Berthold and Siegfried Rosseaum (Atlas Copco Hilux), who won the prologue, had to retire soon thereafter. Similarly, Woolridge and Huxtable capitalised on the misfortunes of Pikkie Labuschagne and Rikus Erasmus (Ruwacon Hilux), as well as Malcolm Kock and Johan Burger (Kock and Son Toyota Hilux) to slot into second.
Christiaan du Plooy and Henk Janse van Vuuren put on a strong effort to finish fourth in their RFS BMW X3, with Duncan Vos and Rob Howie (Castrol Toyota Hilux) rounding off the top five – just 19 second behind the X3.
1. Visser/Badenhorst (Ford Racing Ranger) 5hr 42min 03sec
2. Woolridge/Huxtable (Ford Racing Ranger) 5hr 49min 10sec
3. Marsh/Smalberger (Regent Racing Navara) 5hr 56min 58sec
4. Du Plooy/Janse van Vuuren (RFS X3) 6hr 00min 22 sec
5. Vos/Howie (Team Castrol Hilux) 6hr 00min 41sec
6. Grobler/Ter Stege (RFS X3) 6hr 11min 08 sec
7. De Bruyn/Hugo (Micaren/Exel Hilux) 6hr 22min 21 sec
8. Weicheld/Smalberger (Weicheld Land Cruiser ) 6hr 22min 55sec
9. Leith/Leith (Leith Ranger) 6hr 23min 16sec
10. Tayor/Birkin (Team Castrol Hilux) 6hr 39min 29sec