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The Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Rally-Raid Team is heading back to the venue where it scored a memorable one-two finish and the historic overall Production Vehicle and Class T1+ titles at the 2023 season finale of the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) – however, this year it’s a completely different animal.

The TGRSA Safari 1000 takes the place of the Desert Race on the 2024 SARRC calendar, and is being staged as a candidate event for potential inclusion in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) in 2025. It will see the rally-raid competitors returning to the Koedoeskop area, near the mining town of Thabazimbi in the Limpopo Province, for this crucial mid-season race. The three-day event, from 21 to 23 June 2024, will comprise approximately 915km of challenging terrain in the Waterberg region, with its mix of cultivated farmlands and game farms testing the competitors and their vehicles to the limit.

As the third round of the championship, the marathon race format has the added allure of a maximum of 45 points up for grabs for the win, compared to 30 points for the shorter events – and thus plays a pivotal role in the title battles.

“We had a perfect result at this venue last year where we wrapped up the championship, and this came off another one-two finish at the tough Desert Race in Botswana, so we are confident that we will be competitive at the Safari 1000,” says Neil Woolridge, NWM Ford team principal.

“In the first two events of this season we’ve had a couple of setbacks with minor technical niggles that have cost us a lot of championship points. However, we have shown on both occasions this year that our cars are very quick and capable of winning, so we are looking to maximise our opportunities at this important event,” Woolridge says.

Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert (#234) are currently the top-placed NWM Ford team in their Shell-liveried and EcoBoost V6-powered Ford Ranger. Having qualified second-fastest and finished fourth at the Vryheid 400 in May, they are sixth in the Ultimate (formerly T1+) class, and eighth in the overall Production Vehicle championship. There’s a mere handful of points separating a bevy of competitors, including the NWM Ford crew, from the podium spots in the standings, and a strong result at the Safari 1000 could dramatically shake up the points table going into the second half of the season.

Reigning champions Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#200) made their intentions clear at the Vryheid race by topping the qualifying times, but a couple of brake issues led to them dropping out of contention early on. Accordingly, they will be giving it everything in the NWM Ford Ranger to get their title defence back on track.

The NWM-supported privateer team of Wors Prinsloo and Andre Vermeulen will be throwing their helmets in the ring too, having had their Ranger updated to the latest evolution of this championship-winning machine immediately following the Vryheid race.
Along with the muscular new design based on the current Ford Ranger pick-up, the Neil Woolridge Motorsport team upgraded the car with the extensive new aerodynamic, cooling and packaging enhancements introduced at the start of the 2024 championship for the team’s lead Rangers. It also received the various suspension and drivetrain improvements designed to optimise both performance and reliability, while also making the car easier to work on during service.

The race headquarters and designated service park for the TGRSA Safari 1000 will be based at the Koedoeskop Primary School. The action kicks off at 09:30 on Friday 21 June with a short 15km qualifying loop to determine the starting order for the opening 100km race loop that begins at 13:00.

Saturday’s action begins at 07:30 with the first of two loops of approximately 200km each, separated by a 30-minute service interval. Sunday follows the same format, albeit on a different route of around 200km.

Fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout each of the races using the RallySafe app which can be downloaded for iOS and Android devices from the relevant app stores.

The NWM Ford Rally-Raid Team is proud to be supported by the following partners: Shell, Ford Credit, Mastercraft, Würth, NTN, Brembo, Veldskoen, Motorcraft, Ironman 4×4, Sapphire, Shatterprufe and Tiger Wheel & Tyre.

Follow the team’s updates and progress on the following social media channels:

Published by: Colin Mileman

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