David Fellows and Mark Bergamin played their cards to perfection to win the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro held in Millicent, SA for a second consecutive year. The South Australian based team threaded the #1 Peter Kittle Motorsport Jimco through the tall Pines of the Tantanoola State Forest in a time of 3hrs 49min 49.73sec to take victory, ahead of Aaron Haby (#57) in second outright and Dan Auricht and Grant Connelly (#2) in third outright.
Starting on pole position, Fellows and Bergamin soon settled into second place on the clock, behind #7 Matt Hanson and Leigh Wells in their new twin turbo V6 Jimco. But when Hanson was forced to retire with overheating issues on lap 5, Fellows pounced on the race lead and charged towards the chequered flag to secure another haul of AORC points.
Behind him one of the closest battles of the season was unfolding, with the proclass machinery of #75 Justin Anderson, #57 Aaron Haby, #56 Carl Haby, #21 Mark Burrows, #2 Dan Auricht, #55 Matt Coleman charging through the forest like a freight train. With little dust to contend with the drivers steamed down the fast forestry tracks at over 200kph and launched long off the flyovers lap after lap. The final two lap section saw Aaron Haby slot his single seater into second outright, while Auricht made the final step onto the podium in his V8 Jimco, when Anderson ran out of fuel not far from the finish.
Finishing sixth outright, Wes and Bill Cowie (#104) locked away their first AORC Prolite class win at the event, setting up a battle royale for the class championship at Goondiwindi. Aaron James and Brett Plant (#128) took second in the naturally aspirated 3500cc class, ahead of Darren Payne and Kerri Wallace (#124) who had brought their VQ35 powered prolite across Bass Strait from Tasmania for the race.
Driving Mark Hubbards Southern Cross buggy, Cameron McClelland (#298) set the pace early in the Super 1650 category, but relinquished the lead to reigning class champs, Darryl Smith & Michael Matthew (#201) with two laps to go. Leaving the Victorians to take the class win in their Alumicraft ahead of the Mitsubishi powered Razorback Jared Melville & Michael Marson (#291) and Nick & Jono Simmonds (#256) Southern Cross. While Murray & Jake England (#333) kept their class winning 1300cc Sportsman A-Arm in touch with the leading pack of 1600’s throughout the race.
Returning to the race track just six weeks after their massive rollover at the Bentley’s Cabin Park Flinders 450, Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings (#410) eased their big Ford F-150 Extreme 2WD Truck through the field to take the class win and eighth outright. Second in class and tenth outright were Queenslands Chris Western and Stewy Bishop (#401), who threw out the challenge in the final section to Gartner, in their Mickey Thompson truck as they charged towards the top ten. However a blown clutch in the dying stages halted their assault on the class lead, leaving Gartner to lock away the class win. Andrew Murdoch and Andrew Lyon (#475) were third in class, 2 laps down on Gartner and Western.
Entered only in the SAORRA component of the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro, the Chevy powered Navara of Jeff and Jai Loader (#501) blitzed the Performance 2WD field for the first four laps of the race. However with the AORC honours fought out over 6 laps, Craig Weaire and David Adriaans (#532) stepped into the lead for the final section, successfully putting their big rollover at round 3 at Baroota behind them to take the AORC Performance 2WD Class win.
Qualifying side by side on the starting grid, Geoff Pickering (#702) and Rob Chapman (#781) set up a Production 4WD Class drag race into the first corner of the race on Sunday morning. After taking a hard fought win during Saturdays dash for cash, Pickering & Watson once again took the lead and didn’t look back as the pair of Mitsubishi’s headed towards the forest and eventually the class win. Chapman and Challacombe kept their Triton within striking distance of Pickering’s Pajero until they retired with a blown motor on the fourth lap.
Making the trip East from their Perth base, Russell Cullen and Brett Cornish (#883) were another team to play their cards carefully at the Pines. Focused on a good result for the class championship, Cullen set a steady pace in the five litre GQ Patrol to take the Extreme 4WD Class win, keeping the V8 Patrol of Luke & Daniel Hall (#810) at bay for the duration of the race. Colin Hunter was left stranded on four laps, while they spent time ironing bugs out of the new Dodge Dakota, while a big end bearing failure halted Clayton Chapman’s charge through the field.
The Australian Off Road Championship now boils down to the final round, the Albins Goondiwindi 400 held in Queensland on October 14-16.