|Australia 2010: MTQ Griffith 700 Race to be battle of the Fittest.|
The MTQ Griffith 700 is set to return to the Australian Offroad Championship after a five year absense on July 23-25. Bringing with it an exciting endurance race format that has sparked interest from competitors from all corners of the country. Entries have been flooding in from as far away as Townsville, Perth and Tasmania for the 700 km race through the farmland and the stage has been set for an entertaining weekend.
The Griffith Offroad Club has aimed to bring the endurance element back to the AORC, creating an offroad racing marathon which will see almost 90 of Australia’s fastest buggies, trucks and 4WD’s battle it out over eight laps of an 88 kilometre course.
"Offroad Races have been turning into sprints of a couple of hundred kilometres, then you have an hour or more to fix them, then you sprint again. We wanted to go back to what offroad racing used to be at events like Kempsey, where you raced all day and had to work on the car in your own time" said Les Siviour, a member of the organising committee.
"The track is something like we have always run at Griffith, with an extra 20 km of new stuff out the back. There’s really no real rough stuff. There is a lot of open country and a few kilometre long straights, but there are also some big washouts and rocky hills which will be hard on tyres. One thing’s for sure, if you drive at eleven tenths all day the car won’t finish" said Siviour.
With names like Rentsch and Fellows, the Robinson brothers, Prout, Crowe and Auricht entered, the pace at the front is set to be blistering. But drivers will have to walk the tightrope between pushing hard enough to set a good pace and ensuring their cars last the distance.
Championship leader and Finke Desert Race winner, David Fellows will be aiming to pull off a hat trick of AORC round wins this season, while Glenn Owen will be setting his sights on his own Griffith hat trick. After winning two rounds in the ninties, Owen went on to win the last two races held at Griffith in 2004 and 2005, and another win would see him complete the rare triple.
"I seem to read the track well at Griffith and enjoy the open fast flowing sections and the speed. But one of the best things about heading up there is the people" Said Owen. "I’m not looking forward to 700km in a buggy and I don’t think anyone realises how long it is going to be. It’s not a sprint race and it will be interesting to see how it all comes out in the wash" he continued.
While outright speed will play its part, strategy will also be a major factor in the races outcome. "There is no doubt that during the 700km of racing that there will need to be planned pit stops in your own time. We are currently working through the different scenarios as a team to formulate a plan of what will need to done during these pitstops" said three time Finke Desert Race winner David Fellows.
Offroad Racing legend and Griffith local, Les Siviour, will be coming out of retirement and dusting off his trademark 4.8 litre GU Patrol for the MTQ Griffith 700. Bringing some extra spice to the already lively Production 4WD Class battle between the dueling Mitsubishi’s of Clayton Chapman and Geoff Pickering.
"It’s our hometown race so we thought we would bring the car out of the shed. My daughter Katie is going to navigate, so it will be good fun and interesting to see how it goes. I haven’t officially raced for 8 years, so 700 km in the Patrol is going to be a long day" said Siviour.
The big weekend will commence with Scrutiny and on Friday July 23 at the Griffith Showground from 4pm-8pm. The competition vehicles will be on display in a festival atmosphere that will include food stalls, Sportzprint’s range of Event, Team and AORC merchandise along with entertainment for the children, big and small.
On Saturday July 24 the serious side of the race begins at the Blue Dot Speedway with the prologue at 11am followed by the Performance Metals Longest Jump Competition. Competitors will be given two attempts at driving their competition vehicle over a specially constructed jump and the distance to where the vehicle’s front wheels first touch the ground being measured. A cash prize of $1,000 will be awarded for the longest distance, courtesy of Performance Metals.
Sunday’s race will start at 7.30am and feature 8 laps of an 88km course for AORC competitors and 4 laps for NSW State competitors. With the clock running for the entire race, apart from 3 x 15 minute fuel stops, strategy will play a vital part in crossing greeting the chequered flag first on Sunday afternoon.
2010/07/22 | 13:29 CET | Editor: MR/HS/KILNER