|Australia 2011: The AORC 4th round set to fly in the forest in South Australia.|
The Australian Off Road Championship heads to Millicent in South Australia on September 2-4 for the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro. Held amongst the tall pine trees of the Tantanoola State Forest and based out of the stadium style arena at Teagle’s Quarry, the event is the fourth round of the 2011 AORC.
Reigning Australian Champions, David Fellows and Mark Bergamin, have built up a healthy lead in their Peter Kittle Motorsports Jimco over the first three rounds of the championship and will be aiming to shut the door on their competition at the Pines.
Fellows sealed his first Australian Championship in the wet and slippery conditions at the Pines in 2010, however their nearest rival, Dan Auricht and Grant Connelly are within striking distance of the lead, 18 points shy of Fellows.
Auricht has put the high speed rollover at last years Pines behind him and will be heading south from their Alice Springs base looking to improve on his second outright performance at round 3, the Bentleys Cabin Park Flinders 450, with the aim of setting up an epic deciding round at Goondiwindi in October.
Finke Desert Race winners, Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings are planing to make an early return to the track at the Pines, just six weeks after their spectacular rollover at the Flinders 450. With another week until the green flag drops, Gartner said his recovery is on track and the truck is looking good.
The crew will be bolting the new front A-arms and shocks onto the V8 F-150 truck over the next couple of days and finishing the prep in time for Friday nights scrutiny in Millicent. While Gartner’s focus may be on the championship points, he will need to keep an eye on his Extreme 2WD class mates with the trucks of Danny Brown and Chris Western poised to shine at the Pines.
The talent packed Proclass is set to produce some sensational racing, with the two car Element racing team of Carl and Aaron Haby going toe to toe with the in form Justin Anderson, Mark Burrows, Matt Coleman, Matt Hanson and Hayden Bentley to name just a few. With last years third outright team of Jason Coreless and Paul Ward also looking to back up their good form in their Mitsubishi turbo powered Rimco.
Andrew Mowles was the first Prolite to place on the outright podium at the Pines in 2010, but will have to work hard to repeat his performance and keep his competitors at bay in one of the tightest classes in the championship. With the 3500cc naturally aspirated rockets of Greg Hicks, Aaron James and Wes Cowie regularly flying the Prolite flag at the pointy end of the field in 2011.
The Super 1650 class will feature a good mix of local and interstate talent, with reigning class champ, Darryl Smith facing off with the Razorback of Queenslands Jared Melville and Southern Cross of Sea Lakes Cameron McClelland, who will be piloting Mark Hubbards buggy for the weekend. While Murray England will be unleashing his A-Arm Sportsman on home turf for the first time.
Jeff Loader and Craig Weaire have had a couple of big weeks in the shed getting their Performance 2WD trucks back on the track, after big tumbles at Waikerie and the Flinders 450. But are on track to greet the starter on Saturday alongside Michelson and Smith to race for class honours.
The Production 4WD Class will once again be a battle of the Mitsubishi’s. With the Pajero of Geoff Pickering and the Triton of Rob Chapman set to lock horns out amongst the Pines. While the Extreme 4WD Class will feature all the ingredients for some entertaining racing with the V8 Patrol’s of Russ Cullen, Sandy Bowman and Luke Hall up against the Suzuki Vitara of Bill Monkhouse, the Pajero of Clayton Chapman and Dodge Dakota of Colin Hunter.
Saturday promises to be an action packed afternoon of offroad racing at Teagle’s Quarry, located on the Princes Hwy at the edge of Millicent. At 12.30pm, the buggies, trucks and 4WD’s fire up their engines in anger for the first time at the event and get down to business in the prologue to determine the starting order. The stadium style arena has proven to be a favourite with the spectators in previous years, as Australia’s leading offroad racers launch their high octane machinery over the jumps and slide through the bends.
The "Top Ten Shootout" after the prologue traditionally sees the lap times tumble, as the outright contenders hit the track again to take a final lunge at pole position. On its completion the quickest 4 race cars in each class (excluding those in the top ten) roll on to the starting grid for a two lap door to door blast around the arena in the "Dash for Cash", a spectacle that is not to be missed.
On Sunday morning a new challenge greets the offroaders, as the wide open spaces of Teagle’s Quarry give way to the the tall pines of the Tantanoola State Forest. The six laps of the 65km course will be broken into three 2 lap sections, with a half hour service interval between them.
The 8:30am start is another highlight of the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro, with the drivers unleashing the brute horsepower of their machinery in a two car drag race into the first left hand corner. Before they weave their way out of the arena and begin to thread the heavily wooded forestry tracks. The drivers will have to walk the tightrope of speed and endurance as the race progresses as the forests have proven themselves to be an unforgiving mistress.
The final round of the 2011 Australian Off Road Championship will be the Albins Goondiwindi 400 on October 14-16. Live updates available across the race weekend at [ www.offroadracing.com.au ].
2011/08/26 | 11:15 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KILNER