Shannon and Ian Rentsch have claimed their third ‘King of the Desert” title at the Tatts Finke Desert Race today, taming the famous whoops and red desert sand in the race from Alice Springs to Finke and back. Rentsch put their pre-race engine dramas behind them on the first leg of the race to Finke in the #Aus 1 Hogs Breath BF Goodrich Jimco yesterday, hauling in the early race leader Travis Robinson in the #13 OBR Jimco to be first overnight. This morning the Victorian based father and son team captialised on their dust free advantage at the front of the field to greet the chequered flag in an overall time of 3hr 37min 02sec.
“This is the 12th time we have done Finke. This is the biggest race on our calendar and it’s the race everyone wants to win. We have been in a winning position before and haven’t made it so victory is an awesome feeling”. Said Shannon at the finishline.
Finishing 5 minutes and 27 seconds behind Rentsch in second place was Jack Rhodes and David Pullino in the #91 twin turbo V6 Jimco. After pushing hard on the run to Finke, Rhodes took a calculated approach on the return leg to Alice Springs today to seal the deal. Rewarding him with his first AORC and Finke podium finish, matching his father Greg’s second place on a bike in 1981.
“Dad has always been a Finke nut and hard into it and he was good rider in his time, it is nice to keep something in the family.” Said Jack at the finishline.
Travis Robinson and Paul Currie pulled out all stops to bring the #13 OBR BF Goodrich Jimco home into third outright. Starting on pole position after Saturdays prologue, Robinson developed engine problems at the 100km mark on yesterdays leg to Finke, forcing him back in to third place overnight. The team then swapped the engine in the Finke bivouac, allowing the Perth based driver to maintain his position and cross the finishline in Alice Springs to round out the podium.
Beau Robinson and Ken Skinner continued their good form from round one of the championship at Kalgoorlie, piloting the #413 OBR Tonka Trophy Truck back into Alice Springs in fourth outright, also taking the Extreme 2WD Class win.
Matt Hanson and Leigh Wells locked down fifth in the #3 Snap SMU Jimco, ahead of Paul Gilbert and Jol Pritchard who drove the #7 ex-Pinto Jimco into 6th.
Seventh outright and second in the Extreme 2WD Class was the #441 Geddit Racing Trophy Truck of Billy Geddes and Jamie Ward in a total time of 3 hours 54 minutes and 58 seconds. For Geddes this was only half his race, with his eyes fixed on the prize of becoming the first Finke Ironman by racing in both the auto and moto categories. On Monday afternoon, after almost 11 hours of racing and 904 competitive kilometres in the car and on the bike, Geddes wrote his name in the Finke history books when he crossed the finishline in 211th on his KTM.
Andrew Kittle and Andrew Kerr drove the #14 PKMS Jimco into 8th, ahead of #21 Mark Burrows and Colin Hodge in 9th. While Aaron Haby and Wayne Tabe rounded out the top ten in their Aussie built, #57 Element Prodigy.
Shawn and Robert Swaffield finished on top in the hotly contested Prolite Class, crossing the finishline in their #110 Alumicraft in 4:01:56. The central Queensland based team had battled hard with Alice Springs local Andrew Mowles, driving the #101 Razorback, and took the lead when Mowles was forced to retire with a broken steering rack 10km from the finish. Locky and Paddy Weir were second in class, ahead of the single seat Alumicraft of Rod Visser in third.
Chris Browning and Chris Clark took the Super 1650 honours and an impressive 20th outright in the Honda powered A-Arm Lothringer. Dan Osinski and Dave Skinner dominated the Performance 2WD Class in the TJM Ford Ranger, finishing the 452 km race in 5:12:45.
In the Extreme 4WD Class it was a David and Goliath battle between the #801 Subaru Brumby of Stuart and Jim Zlotkowski and the V8 Patrol of #882 Kent Battle and Heath Lawson. Zlotkowski staked his claim on the first leg to Finke, with Battle, who had put in a top effort to get his truck back on the track after a roll in the prologue, unable to reign him in on the race back to Alice Springs today. Early favourite, Clayton Chapman retired at the 40k mark on Sunday with rear shock failure, after putting the Triton into fifth on the grid during Saturdays prologue. While in the Production 4WD class, Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki had a successful worldwide motorsport debut of the Isuzu MU-X SUV, taking the class honours and 48th outright.
“The car was fantastic. It’s really well balanced – the chassis is really good – and we are really happy with it,” says Garland, who prepared the car with Suzuki in their Sydney workshop.
The 16 strong UTV class was won by Phil Swindale and Matt Costello in the #639 Eagle Powersports Polaris RZR 1000. It was a consistent effort from the Swindale/Costello team who had clearly taken a lot of learnings from their 2013 effort to come back harder and stronger in posting times of 03:01:04 on Day 1 and 02:52:34 on Day 2. As it turned out, two second places equaled first place for the Tamworth duo who were rock solid in finishing second on each day, which was enough to secure them the 2014 side x side crown.
The Australian Off Road Championship now heads to Waikerie in South Australia for the third round of the season, the Toyo Tires Riverland Enduro on July 4-6.