document : Atlas Copco Ford Racing gets dash for gold off to a great start

Atlas Copco Ford Racing gets dash for gold off to a great start
information supplied by: Cross Country Commission (Media) 29 November 2014

359031 Atlas Copco Ford Racing gets dash for gold off to a great start
Qualifying distance: 107 km

GLENHARVIE, SOUTH AFRICA, 28 November 2014 - The Atlas Copco Ford Racing team started the Atlas Copco Gold 450, final round of the 2014 Donaldson Cross Country Championship, in near-perfect fashion by claiming first and third in the Production Vehicle category during today's qualifying.

Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst (T2), winners of the previous round in Vryburg, powered their Class T Ford Ranger to the fastest time of 1 hr 22 min 23 sec during the 107 km prologue, which was staged in the gold mining area surrounding Glenharvie on Gauteng's far West Rand.

They set off 28th on the road and passed numerous vehicles along the way, using the advantage of following the existing tracks to finish almost 3 min ahead of the 4x4 MegaWorld Toyota of Jason Venter and Vince Allemann.

Visser and Badenhorst start the first of tomorrow's two 152 km loops at the front of the Production Vehicle field, and will be aiming to score their second win in a row.

Team-mates Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau used the proven pace of the second Atlas Copco-sponsored Ford Ranger to secure third overall in qualifying, 4 min 31 sec behind the leaders.

Bertholdt/Rousseau had started in the first batch of vehicles, which included championship leaders Anthony Taylor and Dennis Murphy (Castrol Toyota) who lost nearly half an hour early on due to mechanical issues.

They then passed Johan and Werner Horn (Malalane Toyota) at the 87 km mark, and held onto third position through to the end of the section.

The long green grass and numerous patches of water highlighted the extensive rains recorded in Gauteng recently. This made the route particularly tricky due to the slippery mud and the ever-present threat of rocks hidden in the grass.
Although it was a case of clear blue skies for today, there is still a chance of rain on Saturday which could make the route even more treacherous.

Neil Woolridge (Team Manager - Atlas Copco Ford Racing):
"We've done really well today with Chris first and Gary third. There are no points or prizes for qualifying and tomorrow's the day that really counts. If we can have a run like this during the main race it will be fantastic.

"Chris has carried on today where he left off in Vryburg, and has come back strong to give us a great result.
"If the weather stays like this it should be a good race. It will be tough out there, and everyone will have to be careful.
There's lots of long grass and rocks, and we saw several of the crews picking up punctures.
"Both Chris and Gary will need to be fast but cautious."

Chris Visser (T2):
"We had a very good run today. The car performed very well, although the conditions were very rough in some places.
"The route was quite fast in the middle of the loop, but very rocky at the beginning and end
So we had to be very careful to avoid punctures.
"We passed three cars, and this was actually quite difficult due to the dust which we didn't expect after all the rain. We battled to get past in a couple of places, but other than that we had a clean run."

Gary Bertholdt (T4):
"The conditions were treacherous as it was very wet and slippery. We were the fastest out of the first group of five, but obviously we lost some time by virtue of being one of the first into the stage.
"But for tomorrow we are up at the front and this should allow us to have a good race.
"I'm expecting some more tight stuff as the route goes over the mountains, so there will be more rocks. We are just going to have to keep it sharp the whole day. Whoever stays on the track and keeps it tidy will land up at the front of the pack."

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Ford Racing and Neil Woolridge Motorsport are proud to be associated with the following sponsors and partners for the 2014 Donaldson SA Cross Country Championship: Atlas Copco, DeWalt, Motul, Mastercraft, Donaldson Filtration Systems, OMP, Time Freight, Willowton Logistics, Ironman 4x4 and Sign Solutions.

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