The 2022 South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) draws to a close on 11 and 12 November in the most exciting fashion – a thrilling double-header in the Free State town of Parys with 700km of racing that will decide the final rankings in this year’s championship.
Image supplied by Ford South Africa
For the Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Castrol Team it will be a crucial opportunity to maximise its points and move up the standings.
Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer (#277) are currently fifth in the premier FIA T1+ category in their EcoBoost V6-powered NWM Ford Ranger, with just eight points separating them from third-placed Shameer Variawa/Danie Stassen (Toyota). This sets the scene for an intense battle that will be played out on the dusty tracks of this farming region near the Vaal River, just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg.
Gareth and Boyd proved that they have the pace to run at the front of the field after leading most of Round 5 at NAMPO Park in Bothaville. A minor electrical gremlin tripped up their charge to victory, but the young pair are intent on ending the season on a high.
The 2022 season has been extremely challenging for team-mates Lance Woolridge and Elvéne Vonk (#234) in the second NWM Ford Castrol T1+ Ranger. They have also shown race-winning potential on several occasions this year, and are aiming to repeat the impressive form they had at the NAMPO event to shake things up – with Lady Luck hopefully on their side for a change as they continue durability testing of key components.
“We have been hard at work testing and sorting out the little niggles that have hampered our performance this year. We are looking forward to returning to Parys which has very similar terrain to the last event, and this seems to suit our car,”
says team principal Neil Woolridge.
“It was encouraging and a real morale booster for the entire team to see the Rangers dominating qualifying and having Gareth and Boyd leading for most of the previous round. Now we just need a clean run without any hassles to show what we are capable of as we give Gareth and Boyd the best chance to fight for the final podium position in the 2022 championship,”
As two consecutive one-day events, the SARRC action will be as exhilarating and nail-biting as they come. The race headquarters, start/finish and designated service park (DSP) are all located at the Parys Aerodrome on the R59 just outside of town. This race is renowned for its spectator-friendly route and easily accessible viewing points, and access to the route and DSP is free.
Both rounds start at 07:30 with a short 12km Pirelli Qualifying Race around the airfield. The fastest teams on each day will draw their starting positions from 10th to first place, with strategy and road position being crucial considerations.
The Friday race comprises two 165km loops separated by a mandatory 30-minute service stop. The ceremonial start is at 09:30 before progressing to the nearby shooting range where the competitive action begins. The race loop takes the teams towards Sasolburg and Wolwehoek before returning to the pits. Saturday’s main race features two 172km loops starting at the airfield and heading towards Vredefort, with both routes expected to have fast open terrain mixed with some technical and rocky sections.
Fans can follow all the action and track the position of the crews throughout the race using the RallySafe app which can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices.