The Ford Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Puma Lubricants team got its SA Cross Country Series (SACCS) campaign off to a solid start at the Lichtenburg 400, the opening round of the 2017 season this weekend in the North West province.
In extremely dusty and rocky conditions that covered a total race distance of over 400km and saw a high attrition rate and numerous punctures, Gareth Woolridge and co-driver Boyd Dreyer (T77) piloted their brand-new Puma Lubricants-liveried Ford Ranger to second in Class T.
Former rally stars Henk Lategan and Barry White (T17) showed impressive pace in their debut cross country outing after making the switch from rallying, and were rewarded with the final podium place.
The experienced combination of Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable (T34) showed superb speed and tenacity throughout the weekend, but a series of punctures set them back, eventually ending sixth.
Henk Lategan (T17): “I’m quite surprised to end my first race with third place. Before this I really didn’t know what to expect, and the race was a lot rougher than I’m used to in rallying. The pace was actually much quicker than I thought it would be.
“At the beginning our focus was just on getting through the race, and then we found that our pace was decent and we were quite comfortable with the way the first loop went. Obviously, we had a couple of punctures in the second loop, but I’m really happy with third place.
“The Ford Ranger is amazingly strong, and there were numerous times when we hit something and I thought we may have damaged the car, but there were no troubles. The car is quicker than I thought, and the handling is really impressive., Overall I really enjoyed my first race.”