For nearly six months, the the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) has been on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the series is finally set to resume on August 14th-15th at the Bronkhorstspruit 400, which means that we’ll finally get to see the Ford Castrol Cross Country team compete in their upgraded version of the Class T Ford Ranger V8 against the newer and faster full FIA-spec entries.
Unfortunately, coronavirus also delayed the build, testing, and development schedule of the highly anticipated, all-new Ford 3.5L EcoBoost V6 powered FIA-class Ranger. “Although we had planned to debut our all-new Ranger in the first half of the season, the lockdown meant that many of our suppliers weren’t able to ship parts, and the manufacturing of the first chassis came to an abrupt halt,” said Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team principle Neil Woolridge.
Nevertheless, the Ford Castrol Cross Country team is desperate to get back to action, with drivers Lance Woolridge and Elvéne Vonk keen to fight for another podium finish following their impressive third place finish at the Mpumalanga 400 in February.
They will be joined by Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer in the second V8 powered Ford Castrol Ranger. The talented duo has proven to be strong contenders in recent years, but only competed in two events during the 2019 season while standing in for the Brazilian team of Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea, who have been forced to withdraw from the remainder of the 2020 championship due to the current travel restrictions.
The Bronkhorstspruit 400 will be the second round of the shortened championship, which is now scheduled to comprise five races, including a double header at the Parys 400 at the end of October. Because of government regulations, only a limited number of crew members and media are permitted to attend. Unfortunately, no spectators are allowed, and there won’t be any prize ceremony.
With the championship reduced from the original seven rounds to just five races due to COVID-19, every point counts, so a solid finishing record will play a key role in determining the final championship standings. The NWM Ranger V8 has proven exceptionally reliable over the past three seasons, which the team aims to use to its advantage.
The racing kicks off at 1:00 p.m. SAST on Friday, August 14th with a 45 kilometer qualifying loop, which determines the starting order for the main race on Saturday. The crews will complete two loops of 170 km each, with the first loop starting at 8:30 a.m. SAST on Saturday followed by a mandatory 30 minute service, with the second loop departing at 12:00.
Although spectators aren’t permitted to attend the race or visit the service park, fans can follow all of the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the 2020 races using the RallySafe app, which can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices.