South African Cross Country Series rookies, Richard Leeke and Henry Konhë, have notched up a category win in only their second event. The ATS Motorsport duo drove their Class S Ford Ranger double cab to victory in the Battlefields 400, second round of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCC), which ended in Dundee on May 13, to put their first points on the board in spectacular fashion. A month ago, on debut, they were forced to retire due to mechanical damage.
“This more than makes up for the disappointment in Lichtenburg,” enthused Leeke, at 21 one of the youngest drivers in the series. “We pushed hard in extremely tricky conditions, but at the same time tried to have a suitable safety margin as the conditions were totally unpredictable at times. The strategy paid off!”
Leeke and Konhë – who now go straight into preparation for a national championship rally – gave notice of their intentions during Friday’s prologue, where they comfortably led their class in the qualifying session and finished 18th overall – right in the middle of the field.
With the rain continuing to fall, competitors knew that Saturday was going to be treacherous, with standing water hiding all kinds of obstacles to surprise the unwary. Staying out of trouble was going to be easier said than done…
“The Ranger ran perfectly, and the Mickey Thompson race rubber gave me the confidence to push – I always felt like I was in control,” added Leeke. “As usual, Henry did a fantastic job from his side of the truck, and things really came together perfectly for us. Now that we’ve got a finish – and a win – under our belts, we can’t wait for the next one!”
As the sun set on a muddy and soggy KZN battlefield; and with the final results posted, Leeke and Kohne had claimed 19th overall, 12th in Production Vehicles and a dominant victory in Class S – with half an hour in hand over their nearest rival. Their account has been opened in no uncertain terms.
From KZN the team now heads back across the sub-continent, and on to the Toyota 1000 Desert Race end-June – the longest and toughest race on the calendar and which will undoubtedly bring a fresh set of challenges!