An air of excitement is hanging over the seventh and penultimate round of the South African National Off-Road Championship, presented by ABSA.
This is the second time that the race, scheduled to take place in White River on 24 and 25 October, has had to be relocated - and the teams really don't know what the terrain holds.
The fire-ravaged White River area in Mpumalanga has been declared out of bounds for all motorsport activity for the foreseeable future and as such,the Toyota Dealer 400 has been moved to Lydenburg, an area in which few of the stalwarts of the off-road racing fraternity have ever competed.
None of the competitors really know what to expect, including Team Ford Racing's Class T duo of Neil Woolridge and Kenny Skjoldhammer. "This will be the first time that we have raced at Lydenburg, so we're not quite sure what to expect. But it's always a pleasure to go to new venues. It great for the sport as well as for the spectators. We are really looking forward to the race and we know that, once we have left the area, there will be even more Ford fans in Lydenburg," Woolridge comments.
Team Ford Racing has been working overtime, making sure that the Class T Ranger is 100% ready for the race and Woolridge is hoping for another rough race in order to show off the vehicle's "Built Ford Tough" capabilities. "We still feel that the Ranger performs better in the rough and that we can pose a serious threat to the opposition," he states.
"We've made more modifications to the Ford's power steering and suspension," Woolridge explains, "and we are hoping to take part in a regional race over the previous weekend in order to make sure the car is perfectly prepared for Lydenburg. It will also give us a little more time in the car before the race. At the national, we know that our Built Ford Tough V6 petrol-powered Ranger will be really on the pace."
Manfred Schröder and Jack Peckham, in the Class E Ford Ranger 2.5TD 4x4 Double Cab, are also hoping to perform well at the Toyota Dealer 400. "We're definitely looking forward to this race," says Schröder. "Most of us have never raced at Lydenburg, so it should make for an interesting event. That's always good news for the spectators.
"White River has always been quite fast through the forest. I'm really hoping that Lydenburg will be the same as it really suits my driving style. While our Ford Ranger can handle the toughest of racing conditions, I like to go as fast as possible!"
As for the near standard Class E Ranger, the team is taking no chances.
"We've just finished completely stripping the car and we're making sure that everything is perfect before going to Lydenburg. We've had a bit of bad luck this season, but we're positive that our 'Built Ford Tough" Ranger is going to see us to the end."
The Toyota Dealer 400 gets underway at 13:00 on Friday, October 24, with a 36 km prologue around Kwena Dam to determine starting positions for Saturday's main event.
Saturday's race starts at 08:00 where crews will head for the Kwena basin on a 120 km section, which will only be used once. Following that, racers will complete two 120km loops before finishing at the Badfontein Boeresaal near the Kwena Dam.
The first finisher is expected at around 13:00.
Original article from Car