Battle of Bronkhorstspruit Set to Deliver Thrilling Rally-Raid Action
  • Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer currently fourth overall in Class FIA T1+ in the leading Neil Woolridge Motorsport Ford Castrol EcoBoost-powered Ranger
  • Lance Woolridge and Elvéne Vonk determined to get points on the board after two non-finishes in the opening rounds, despite impressive pace
  • NWM Ford Ranger V8 privateers Christo Rose/Arno Olivier and Bernard/Minette Johnstone will be vying for Class T victory

The NWM Ford Castrol Team will come out with all guns blazing when the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) resumes for round three of the 2022 season on 19 and 20 August in Bronkhorstspruit.

Officially titled the #TeamHilux Rally-Raid Bronkhorstspruit, the event will once again be staged on the border of the Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces after last taking place in 2020. As the crucial mid-way point in the 2022 championship, it promises to deliver a thrilling battle amongst the top contenders in the closely fought Production Vehicle category.

The Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) team continues to develop and refine its impressive new twin-turbocharged EcoBoost-powered Castrol-sponsored T1+ Ford Ranger, and is more determined than ever to reverse its fortunes after two difficult opening races this year.

For the young pairing of Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (277), it will be another important opportunity to maximise their points in the fight for the 2022 SARRC title, and continue their hunt for an elusive first overall win in the premier category. They finished third at the season-opening Mpumalanga 400 in March, followed by fifth at the Desert Race in June after their charge was hampered by an oil cooler failure on the opening loop of the three-day event.

Woolridge and Dreyer are currently fourth overall in the Class FIA T1+ championship on 52 points – with 15 points separating them from current leaders Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy (Toyota).

Team-mates Lance Woolridge and Elvéne Vonk (234) have shown race-winning pace in both events this season in the T1+ Ranger. However, they were sidelined in Mpumalanga while leading the race, after hitting a tree in the wet and slippery conditions which damaged the chassis. Running at the sharp end of the field after qualifying third at the Desert Race in Upington, their efforts came to nothing as engine trouble halted their challenge on day two.

“So far the 2022 season has been a mix of ups and downs,” says NWM team principal Neil Woolridge. “We have shown that we are in a position to lead races and fight for overall wins and podium results. Unfortunately, luck hasn’t gone our way, but we remain positive and confident that we will be able to take the fight to the championship leaders for the second half of the season.”

After the upcoming two-day Bronkhorstspruit race, the SARRC features two double-header races at Nampo and Parys, so there’s a lot to fight for and the championship is far from over for Gareth and Boyd.

Lance and Elvéne are aiming to make amends after the disappointment of the two consecutive retirements. “Lance is driving better than ever thanks to the fantastic international experience he is gaining driving for Veloce Racing in Extreme E where he is competing against the best rally-raid drivers in the world. This weekend he will be racing in a rallycross event at the famous track in Hell, Norway, so there’s no doubt he will go into the Bronkhorstspruit race on a high,” Neil says.

“We have been hard at work further developing our T1+ Rangers, using the valuable information and experience gleaned from the past two events,” he adds. “We also completed an extensive three-day test in Upington straight after the Desert Race where we tried various set-ups and learned a lot about the car, and this will give us even greater momentum for the rest of the season.”

NWM-supported privateers

Christo Rose and Arno Olivier (T58) are the top NWM-supported privateers in the Class T championship, competing in the V8-powered NWM Ford Ranger. They are currently second in the standings on 46 points after two podium finishes in a row, just four points adrift of Jayden Els/Armand du Toit (Renault Duster V8) and eager to get the win.

The husband-and-wife pairing of Bernard and Minette Johnstone (T22) is fourth overall on 25 points in the NWM Ford Ranger V8, seven points behind the Renault of Johan/Sean van Staden.

Race programme

Competitors will face almost 420km of intense racing from the moment the flag drops for the start of the Bronkhorstspruit event. A short but crucial 15km qualifying sprint commences at 12:00 on Friday, 19 August, which will determine the starting order for the first 83km race loop that sets off at 14:00.

The results of loop one will define the starting positions for Saturday, 20 August, with the action beginning at 08:00 with a 160km race loop, followed by a mandatory 30-minute service stop at the designated service park (DSP) and a repeat of the 160km route for loop two.

Race headquarters, DSP and the start/finish will be located at the Soetdoring Restaurant facility just off the N4 highway in Bronkhorstspruit – just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and approximately 30 minutes from Pretoria. This makes it easily accessible to motorsport fans from Gauteng, as well as Mpumalanga. Access to the DSP is free, and the race route provides numerous easily accessible spectator points.

Follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the 2022 season’s races using the RallySafe app which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices.