Persistance pays out: turnaround and the T1 Brazil title
Dust, sweat, tears, blood occasionaly... And the sweet taste of the champagne after seven rough days of competition through 3,6 thousand kilometers. Gareth Woolridge’s first international racing experience could not have taught him more.
“The toughest race I have ever done. Mainly mentally rather than sheer roughness although don’t be fooled: it was rough and my body is still feeling it. Ending up with a first in class and a 10th overall after losing over six ours in the race due to problems, I am very chuffed that we did this cause on more than one occasion I thought it was all over”, he remembered.
Gareth Woolridge and Marcelo Haseyama faced the same problem for two days: on stage one and five the duo was trapped in a ditch with a broken suspension and had to be taken back to the bivouac. That’s when all effort to put them back in the race was taken by the team of mechanics.
“We made it to the bivouac just before midnight in two occasions and still the team banded together to fix the car, working through the night and got us going the next day. I am very Lucky to have such a great and skilled bunch of guys behind me as well as the supporters both at the race and back home. I am grateful to all of them”, Gareth said. On the final day, the T1 Brazil leading Mitsubishi of Luiz Facco/Humberto Ribeiro crashed and did not reach the end of the stage, opening way for Gareth’s and Hasa’s first title in the class.
For Gareth’s father, Neil Woolridge, the experience in the Sertões made him a better driver. “It has been a tough race for him. A young man, in his first international race... Unfortunatelly, having the name Woolridge was difficult – a lot of expectations, and he put a lot of pressure on himself -, and it has been good for him”, Neil pointed out.
“He was pushed off his comfort zone, and from a driving point of view and the experience point of view he will grow a lot from this. There is no doubt about his speed or ability to drive a racing car. He needs to experience more, and he has a very bright future ahead of him, but it is going to take some time, still. He went very well, after two disappointing days after the incident. Anyway, he scored a stage win, two second places... All in all, it was a very positive first experience”, he finished.
The joint effort between Neil Woolridge Motorsports and X Rally Team had dominated this year’s Rally dos Sertões: the NWM/X Rally Team Ford Rangers V8 4x4 won all the seven stages and got the overall car title, the T1 FIA title and the T1 FIA Brazil title.
Overall Standings (X Rally Team):
Classe T1 FIA
1. Cristian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti – 21:51:31
2. Sylvio de Barros/Rafael Capoani – a 7:58
3. Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea – a 2:06:29
Classe T1 BRASIL
1. Gareth Woolridge/Marcelo Haseyama – 28:47:06
3. Gunter Hinkelmann/Fábio Pedroso – a 2:41:41