JWANENG, BOTSWANA, 29 June 2014 – Atlas Copco Ford Racing salvaged crucial championship points by finishing fourth and fifth in the 2014 Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, which finished in Jwaneng today.
After conducting extensive bodywork repairs on the cars overnight, the cars were in good shape for the final push on the third and final day.
The crews set off for the final 352 km this morning, comprising two 176 km loops of another brand new route, which turned out to be far tighter and more demanding than the previous day’s 452 km section.
Gary Bertholdt and Siegfried Rousseau started the final day in fourth place, and despite pushing hard to make up time on the Toyota of Johan and Werner Horn, they ultimately had to settle for a hard-earned fourth overall.
Team-mates Manfred Schroder and Japie Badenhorst managed to fight their way up from seventh at the start of the day to finish in fifth place overall in the Production Vehicle Championship.
Although just missing out on a podium finish, the Ford pairings secured valuable championship points on an extremely difficult and long 913 km event marked by a high attrition rate. Only 17 of the original 59 starters made it across the finish line.
Neil Woolridge (Team Manager – Atlas Copco Ford Racing):
“This was a tough one. We always knew that 1 000 km of racing through the desert and bush in Botswana wouldn’t be easy, and this all-new route turned out to be very hard on all of the cars and crews.
“Fortunately other than the cosmetic damage, both of the Ford Rangers ran faultlessly over all three days.
“We lost time yesterday and just weren’t able to make it up. Our opposition was strong, and we have to say congratulations to Toyota as they did a very good job.
“Although we are happy with the reliability of our cars, we have some work to do on some key areas, and we’ll be focusing on that when we get back to the workshop.
“I think generally we can be satisfied with having finished this gruelling race, and it’s good to see both vehicles at the finish point and scoring some solid championship points.”
Gary Bertholdt (T4):
“It was a bit disappointing missing out on the podium today but we certainly put the Atlas Copco Ford Ranger through its paces.
“Siegfried and I had a great time together in the car throughout the day, but it just wasn’t quite enough to grab third place.
“The route was much harder than yesterday. It was very tight with lots of soft sand, and you can see the effect with the large number of cars missing from the paddock at the end.
“It was tough out there, and was a true Botswana 1000 Desert Race!”
Manfred Schroder (T2):
“We had a fairly good day, especially from where we started in seventh place to work our way up to fifth. I don’t think we could have gone much faster.
“Today’s route was very tight with lots of deep sand. There were long sections that we spent in second gear, and that’s why it took longer than yesterday even though the route was shorter.
“It’s not where we wanted to finish, but at least we got some important points for the championship.”