The 2010 Australian Off Road Championship season has been played out in some of the toughest conditions on record. With mother nature dealing out some extreme weather conditions during the first four rounds of the season and then forcing the final race at Goondiwindi to be cancelled due to flooding in the region. Making light work of the challenging playing conditions were the South Australian based team of David Fellows and Mark Bergamin, who dominated the 2010 AORC to claim their first Australian Off Road Championship.
After coming close to winning the title in previously, Fellows set about making 2010 his year. Winning the first round, the ARB Pinjarra Engineering Hyden 450 in Western Australia at Easter, before unleashing the Peter Kittle Motorsport twin turbo Toyota powered Jimco on the red desert sands at the Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race. Where Fellows saw off early charges by the Robinson brothers and Shannon Rentsch, while keeping Brad Gallard’s Trophy Truck at bay to win his third consecutive King of the Desert title. Meanwhile the new V8 Jimco’s of Brad Prout and Daniel Auricht, and the young West Australian Travis Robinson were keeping in touch with Fellows in the championship race, thanks to some good podium finishes.
Round 3 of the championship saw a return of the endurance race format at the MTQ Engine Systems Griffith 700. Thick fog and mud replaced the dusty conditions during the first half the 700km race and as the day progressed a see-sawing battle developed between the proclass weaponry of Owen, Rentsch and Fellows. With different pit strategies playing their part it was Glenn Owen who added another Griffith trophy to his mantelpiece, ahead of the reigning Australian champ, Shannon Rentsch in second outright and David Fellows in third.
The Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro would turn out to be the fourth and final round of the 2010 AORC. Extreme wet weather wreaked havoc with parts of the track connecting the stadium style arena at Teagle’s Quarry to the Pines forest, forcing the race to be shortened to just three laps. Fellows and Bergamin waited for the right moment to pounce on the lead and once they were in front, the South Australian pair didn’t look back. Taming the wet and slippery conditions to take the race win and seal their first Australian Off Road Championship win with a dominating 62 points.
Daniel Auricht had a great return to the AORC in 2010 in his V8 powered Jimco. Finishing second outright in the championship on 34 points with his navigator Grant Connelly, after solid performances in the first three rounds. Third outright was Sydney’s Brad Prout who piloted his single seat V8 Jimco to a total of 22 points.
While the outright champs, Fellows and Bergamin dominated the ProClass it was a much tighter affair through the other categories. In the Extreme 4WD Class a count back was required to determine the winner after the Queensland based sparring partners, the Jeep of Hunter & Campbell and the Pajero of Chapman & Challacombe, who were locked on equal points after the four rounds. With no fifth round on offer to break the deadlock, Colin Hunter and Simon Campbell were deemed to be the winners in their Jeep Grand Cherokee after accruing a greater number of higher placing during the season. Clayton Chapman and Adam McGuire backed up their 2009 Production 4WD Class win with another class championship in 2010. Geoff Pickering and Dylan Watson missed the first round in WA, but debuted a new Mitsubishi Pajero at Finke and battled hard with Chapman’s Triton for the remainder of the season to finish second in class. Tanya and Ian French were third in the Production 4WD Class.
The Chev powered Utes of Loader and Clohesy traded blows in the Performance 2WD class over the four rounds. However it was the Navara of Jeff and Jai Loader who took the win ahead of the Mitsubishi of Bernie Clohesy and Kim Stacey. Chris Western and Stewy Bishop fought off the heavyweight trophy trucks in their Mickey Thompson truck, to win back-to-back Extreme 2WD Class championships. Second in class were the Tundra of Dean and Brad Miller, ahead of Geoff and Liz Roe in the Geiser Bros. Chev.
The Sportsman buggies came out of hiding at Griffith and Josh Golsby Smith and Scott Collis came away with the class win for buggies with engines up to 1300cc as a result, ahead of Jarrod Everleigh and Billy Hutchen in second and Grant and Tim Walker in third. By contrast the Super 1650 class was a hard fought affair over all four rounds with Zettl, Smith, Stevenson and Johnstone all in the hunt at different stages. Consistency proved to be the key for Darryl Smith and Michael Matthews who took the Super 1650 class championship in their Alumicraft. Werner Zettl was second in his Aussie built Jarvi A-Arm, however with different navigators riding with him during the season, the second placed Super 1650 Navigator was Steve Barrington. South Australians Troy Johnstone and Lincoln Edwards finished third outright in the class.
The competition within the Prolite class, for naturally aspirated buggies up to 3500cc continued to bloom in 2010. Steven Sanderson and Guy Pepper took the lead early in the season, but had to withstand a late charge by the reigning prolite champs, Justin and Melissa Watt to take the Prolite Championship. The Watt’s finished in second by the slimmest of margins, ahead of Rick Bramley (driver) and Rod Kay (Navigator) in third. A number of new cars debuted in the class during the season, with Andrew Mowles a stand out performer. Proving he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011 after finishing second outright at the Pines in his Razorback.
The five round Australian Off Road Championship recommences at Easter 2011, with the first round in Hyden, Western Australia, before moving on to the Finke Desert Race, Griffith, Pines Enduro and Goondiwindi.