When you crack an invite from Ford South Africa to attend a round of the SA Cross-country Championship Series, the Ford Parys 400, you clear your calendar and make sure you go. I know from experience, having attended one towards the end of 2019 which also involved the crew from Neil Woolridge Motorsport. It was also at the Parys Airfield, so I knew what to expect and where we'd be headed to see the racers fly by at speeds on gravel and veld that will blow your mind. It's especially scary when you're standing in the path of a Ford Ranger barreling towards you with such speed that you know if the driver just blinks at the wrong time you could end up sharing space with splattered bugs on the grille. Of course with the NWM crew, they're all pros so that won't (shouldn't) happen. Ford Ranger #334 was piloted by Lance Woolridge with navigator being Elvéne Vonk, a name you really should know if you're a fan of motorsport in SA. Ford Ranger #377 saw Gareth Woolridge at the wheel with Boyd Dreyer taking on nav duties.
At the last event like this, we were transported to the spectator points in a fleet of Ranger Raptors, and this year we were in the comfort of a few Ford Tourneo Customs, the perfect long range people carrier. Of course they weren't as fleet on the gravel, but having your own aircon vent blasting ice cold air on you when the outside temps were in the mid-30s was something I wouldn't have traded for much else on that day. There was definitely a noticeable decease in the amount of spectators thanks to the Covid things, but there were still enough people out and about tracking and supporting their favourite drivers to create some small traffic jams and to make the competitors perform that much harder. There really are die-hard motorsport fans in SA, my kinda people.
In between viewing points, we were treated to a fantastic catered lunch at the crew's pits and each of us there was gifted with the coolest Ford Performance/NWM/Castrol Edge-branded camping chair that will accompany to every event I attend from now on. A Q&A session with members of NWM was pretty interesting, especially learning how well the Rangers are faring is what's essentially a higher class. At the end of a clearly gruelling event, the Ford-based teams did great. Gareth and Boyd in Ranger #377 clinched a 3rd overall for the day and the team also claimed the South African Cross Country Series Manufacturers Award as well as the Team Award. Fellow Ford drivers Wors Prinsloo (#T41) took the Class T win with Malcolm Kock (#T28) 2nd. A true blue Ford weekend!
A huge thanks to Ford SA and Neil Woolridge Motorsport for yet another awesome event, there is no better way to watch an offroad event. To the behind the scenes crew making sure all the journos and influencers are treated like royalty, you get the biggest thanks for working so hard on such a hot day. It's events like these that keep the interest and passion for shooting motorsport alive.