PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa, 22 September 2021 – The SA Cross Country Series (SACCS) is set to roar back into action for the second half of the season at the 4x4 Mega World 400 in Bothaville, Free State, on 1 and 2 October 2021. The Ford Castrol Cross Country Team is primed and ready to resume the battle for this year’s championship title, with rounds four and five condensed into two action-packed days of racing.
The teams have had to endure a lengthy wait of more than three months since the gruelling 1 000km Desert Race in Upington due to the varying levels of COVID-19 lockdowns and the disruptions to the calendar, but are eagerly anticipating returning to the fray.
Following his win in the opening round of the championship at the Mpumalanga 400, Lance Woolridge (334) is the team’s top-placed driver in the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) prepared Ford Ranger, and is currently second in the overall Production Vehicle championship on 61 points, just three points behind Giniel de Villiers (Toyota). However, it’s a close-run affair, as Henk Lategan Toyota) and Brian Baragwanath (Century Racing) are tied in third place just a single point adrift. Woolridge’s co-driver, Elvéne Vonk, is placed third overall for navigators.
In the fight for the FIA-class title, Lance is third on 76 points behind Baragwanath (78) and De Villiers (81), while Elvéne holds third place for the FIA-class navigators.
Gareth Woolridge (377), in the second Ford Castrol NWM Ranger, is currently ninth in the overall Production Vehicle championship and eighth in the FIA-class, with co-driver Boyd Dreyer ranked seventh and sixth respectively.
“It has been a long three months since we last raced in Upington, and the team is very keen to get out there again,” says Ford Castrol NWM team principal, Neil Woolridge. “We have used the time productively to do extensive testing and development work on our new EcoBoost-powered Ford Rangers, focusing on refining its performance, cooling and suspension setup to ensure we are even more competitive for the second half of the championship.
“The 4x4 Mega World 400 will be an exciting challenge, as it comprises two full races over the two days and will cover almost 800 km in total,” Woolridge adds. “With the opportunity to score double points, this event will play a pivotal role in deciding this year’s championships, so it’s essential that we do well and score maximum points.”
Ford NWM Development Team
The 4x4 Mega World 400 will be the third outing for the Ford NWM Development Team of Bapi Rubuluza and co-driver Fanifani Meyiwa in the V8-powered Class T Ford Ranger (T49).
Following a solid first race together at the Sugarbelt 400 in May, the pair unfortunately crashed out of the Desert Race in June, and are looking forward to a confidence-building performance in the Free State.
“Bapi and Fanifani were looking really good for a decent result in Upington, but they were caught out by the challenging terrain,” team principal Neil Woolridge says. “They are very keen to get back on the horse and gain more experience in the Class T Ranger. With two full-length races packaged into one weekend, it will be the perfect opportunity for them to get back into the groove. The priority will simply be for them to finish both races and get more seat time in the vehicle, and in the heat of cross country racing.”
It will also be an important race for the other NWM-supported Ford Ranger crews. Malcolm and Frans Kock (T4) currently lead the Class T drivers and navigators standings on 106 points, with Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen (T41) placed second in an identical Ranger V8 on 79 points – the latter four points ahead of the Toyota of Johan and Werner Horn. Christo Rose (T58) is fourth with 69 points on his debut season in Class T, with Bernard Johnstone (T22) fifth in another Ford Ranger.
The event will be based at Nampo Park, just outside Bothaville. The opening race on Friday 1 October will comprise a short 15km sprint, starting at 07:30, followed by the first of two loops of a 180km route to the east of Nampo Park. According to SACCS, the route will include fast open sections and a mix of technical areas around an old pan, an unused coal power station and old mine dumps now covered in grass, with the final section featuring bushy terrain along the Vaal River.
Saturday’s race follows the same format with a 15km qualifying sprint, along with two 180km loops of a different route that encompasses tight and technical terrain, a Super Special set in a field of irrigation pivots, along with soft sandy sections.
Although the event remains closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 restrictions, fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews using the RallySafe app which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices. Also, be sure to follow the Ford Performance SA social media channels, listed below, for regular race updates.