Carnarvon came alive with the sounds of race engines this morning as the bikes, quads and cars got down to business in the prologue at the 2018 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash. Based out of Carnarvon Speedway, the Gascoyne Off Road Club put together a 20km course which mixed station tracks with some virgin terrain for a high speed blast to determine the starting order for tomorrows first leg of the race from Carnarvon to Gascoyne Junction.
Former winner and 2017 runner up, Cody Upton led the field away and when the clocks were stopped he had locked in the quickest time, 14min 13.8 seconds to secure pole position on his #2 Honda CRF. Masters competitor, Stephen ‘Duck’ Mitchell rode his #737 Yamaha into P2, 50 seconds behind Upton. #255 Andy Brack rounded out the top three on the Moto grid with a 15min 05.1 second lap.
The quads once again kept the two wheelers honest at the Dash, with #32 Kirk Williams leaping into sixth overall and first in class with a 15min 36.7sec pass on his KTM. Yamaha pilot, #989 Dylan Richards locked in second in class and 7th overall, 0.8 sec behind Williams with #921 John Iuliano putting his KTM LC4 into third in class and 14th on the grid.
With the sun now high overhead, the track was handed over to the Auto Category. John Purhouse was a notable non-starter, after blowing his Coyote engine in his Rally Raid Ranger on the way out to the track this morning. Twin turbo V6 power dominated the proceedings, with Darren Agrela breaking through the 15 minute barrier in his #39 Jimco to take pole position in the auto category in a time of 14min 51sec. Shane and Curt Elphinstone were second in the #44 ex-OBR Jimco, ahead of 2017 GasDash winners, Troy and Deb Schoen driving the #19 S&S Probuggy.
Jared Percival and Darran Beckett took the Prolite honours in the #119 S&S Prolite, locking in 4th on the grid in the process.
Mark Wainright was the quickest of the SXS’s, driving his naturally aspirated #6627 Yamaha YXZ into 7th, ahead of the leading turbo charged CanAm Maverick X3 of #674 Chris Unstead.
Greg Pickersgill and Greg Finlay will have the honour of being the first Extreme 2wd away tomorrow morning, starting their #425 Truck out of tenth on the grid.
#848 Mitchell and Owen Davies were the fastest of the hungry pack of Extreme 4wd’s and will start in 12th, ahead of classmates #832 Nick Van Geest in 13th and #866 Mark Murray in 14th. In the Production 4wd Class, Darren Shultz will be the first away from the Carnarvon Speedway, launching the black #736 Jeep out of 17th. While #1010 Deon Visagie, #234 Michael Davis and #555 Russ Cullen will be the first of their respective classes on the road.
The cars start at the Carnarvon Speedway at 8am on Saturday morning and the Gascoyne Off Road Club President, Ted Schultz is expecting the fastest cars to take around 2 hours to cover the 202km to Gascoyne Junction. The Moto start their first leg of the race at 11am.