- Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable head to Battlefields 400 in championship lead, and winner of this event in 2017
- Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer aiming for strong finish after retiring at last event
- Brazilian crew of Cristian Baumgart and Beco Andreotti take over third NWM Ford Ranger for the Dundee race
PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa, 25 April 2018 – The battle for the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) title resumes in Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, on 4 and 5 May, and the Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team will be aiming for a second consecutive win for the 2018 season, and at this event.
The aptly named Battlefields 400 is staged at the Battlefields Lodge on the outskirts of Dundee, which was a happy hunting ground for the team last year. Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable, in the V8-powered Ford Ranger (T34), claimed a resounding victory last time out at this race. They also have the advantage of heading into the second race of the 2018 season in the Class T championship lead, following their comfortable win at this year’s opening race in Dullstroom.
Team-mates Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer have set their sights on making amends for their retirement in Dullstroom after setting an impressive pace during qualifying. The young crew finished second last year in the treacherous wet and muddy conditions experienced at the Battlefields race, and a strong finish at the sharp end of the field is essential to secure vital championship points – particularly with the 2018 calendar limited to just six events.
The X Rally Team of Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea will unfortunately miss the Dundee round after having scored a podium finish in Dullstroom. The KwaZulu-Natal race clashes with the third round of the Brazilian Cross Country Championship which they currently lead, having won the first two races of the year in a NWM-built Ford Ranger that closely matches the Class T specification of the locally raced vehicles, yet competes against more expensive FIA-class rivals.
Their seats in the third NWM Ford Ranger (T20) will be taken by Marcos’ brother Cristian and co-driver Beco Andreotti who are familiar with the local series after competing in Lichtenburg and the Botswana Desert Race during 2016. They also enjoy the enviable reputation of having won Brazil’s tough Rally dos Sertões for the last two years in succession.
“We are quietly confident going into the Battlefields 400 following our great results in Dullstroom, and our 1-2 finish at this event last year,” says Neil Woolridge, team principal of NWM. “The team had a lot of work to do on the cars after the wet and muddy conditions experienced at the first race of this season, and it looks like it could be more of the same in Dundee which has experienced a lot of rain recently.
“We have made some refinements to the set-up of the Ford Rangers, and our testing with Lance’s car this week went really well,” he adds.
According to the race organisers, more than 50 percent of the route has changed compared to last year and encompasses a wide range of terrain, from fast open fields to more technical sections that will challenge the drivers and require a high level of concentration.
Following the successful format used on the Mpumalanga 400, the action starts off at the Battlefields Lodge and heads straight into an exciting spectator stage that is sure to be popular with the fans. Thereafter the competitors will head north towards Nigsana and the Buffalo River. The route then runs east along the Buffalo River towards Vryheid and Tayside and across Landmansdrift towards Nquthu Road, the Spitskop, Marino Vlakte and the Greytown road. Competitors then head back to the Battlefields Lodge via the Tangeni feed lots.
Friday’s qualifying loop starts at 13:00 and features a 45km sprint that will determine the starting positions for Saturday’s main race which commences at 08:00. The crews will complete two laps of around 170km each, split by a compulsory 20-minute service and a regroup after the first loop.
Spectator points are within easy reach of the Battlefields Lodge, and the action can be followed on the RallySafe app which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices.