Brazilian duo to challenge Fernando Alonso in South Africa
While many eyes will be on the two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, in attendance at the Lichtenburg 400, the fifth and penultimate round of the South African National Cross Country Series (SACCS) that takes place on 13 and 14 September in the North-West Province, teams in the Production Vehicle championship will have even more important issues to deal with – the best results possible in the chase for the championship titles.
Lichtenburg will be the place to be for cross country and motorsport enthusiasts who would like a glimpse of Alonso in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux. Alonso will be using the event as part of his intensive training programme with the aim to participate in the Dakar Rally. His training with Toyota Gazoo Racing has included training in the desert in Namibia as well as in Poland with more training to follow during the next few months. While Alonso might steal some of the glamour in Lichtenburg, the battles for the championship titles will continue and the outcome of the race in the North-West Province will be of the utmost importance before the sixth and final round.
There has been a common thread running through the Class T championship this season, as the Castrol Ford Cross Country Teams Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable have made the top step of the podium their own with a clean sweep of five victories (including the two separate races that made up the Botswana Desert Race in June).
As the reigning champions, the crew has been untouchable in the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) built and run Ford Ranger (T34), putting them on the brink of a second consecutive title this year. A finish in the points in either of the two closing rounds will hand them the Class T crown.
Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea will once again be competing in the second Ford Ranger (T20), fresh from finishing fourth at the arduous Rally dos Sertões in Brazil. With almost the entire South African NWM crew in action servicing no less than seven vehicles, the eight-day 6 000km event was dominated by the V8-powered NWM Ford Rangers that are built at the teams workshop in Pietermaritzburg. Marcos brother, Cristian Baumgart, along with co-driver Beco Andreotti finished second, with the overall victory going to Lucas Moraes and Kaique Bentivoglio - an unprecedented fourth win on this event for the NWM Ranger.
"Our continued success in the South African championship, and our fourth win in a row in Brazil, prove that we have a very good package in the Ford Ranger," Woolridge states. "The team has been exceptionally busy, but our continued development of the vehicle has brought great results that we can all be extremely proud of. We are eagerly anticipating another good outing in Lichtenburg."
The Lichtenburg 400 will be based at the towns showgrounds as usual, with the route heading south towards Coligny before turning east to Koster, then north back to the start/finish.