2019 Gascoyne Dash – Day 1 Report

Having completed Friday’s prologue in Carnarvon, competitors at the 2019 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash woke on Saturday to perfect racing conditions.  The first day of competition would see the field race east approximately 205 kilometres from coastal Carnarvon to the outback oasis of Gascoyne Junction.  A strong breeze helped clear the dust, allowing plenty of close racing action.

The auto field were the first to depart the start line at 8am, with the #19 SS Racetech Pro buggy of Troy Schoen leading the field away.  Starting out of position two Justin and Archer Steadman had a day to forget, with multiple flat tyres slowing their progress before a stray tree branch came through the front of the buggy and struck Archer, forcing their withdrawal.  Thankfully the damage wasn’t too serious and Archer will make a full recovery.  Out in front, Schoen was soon put under pressure by the Jimco Pro buggies of Darren Agrela and Shane Elphinstone, however Agrela would soon be out of the event with mechanical issues.

Elphinstone was able to get past Schoen and despite some overheating and steering issues, he managed to pull a commanding lead,  eventually crossing the line with a lead of nine minutes over his nearest competitor.

Having started the day from 12th position, John Purshouse & Murray Hynes stormed through the field in their Extreme 4WD Ford Ranger, completing day one in second position with a lead of a little over two minutes to the Jimco Pro class buggy of Dean & Jordon Terry.  Malcolm Yeardley put in an impressive performance in the #171 BAT Pro Lite buggy, finishing the day as the leading Pro Lite vehicle, while the Bullet Sportslite buggy of Peter Barrett was punching above its weight, finishing the day in a very impressive seventh outright.

Mathew Birnie was the leading SxS Turbo vehicle, completing the day in sixth outright and looking to move up through the field on day two. Gary and Christopher Kirkwood were the sole Production 4WD competitors and they made it to the end, they will start day two from 21st position, as will Michael Davis & Andrew Kingscott, the sole Super 1650 entry will start day two from 23rd. Russ Cullen is on top in the Extreme 2wd category, while Matty Beck  has taken charge of the Performance 2wd Class.

In the Moto division, Cody Upton was a man on a mission.  Having started the day from fourth position, Upton surged through the field to bring  his Honda CRF450R home just over two minutes ahead of the KTM of polesitter James McCarthy.  Upton’s time was the best of the day, completing the course around 10 seconds faster than the Pro buggy of Shane Elphinstone. Rounding out the top three was Thomas O’Connell onboard another KTM.

Michael Lough was the leading Veteran class rider, running inside the top ten to arrive in the Junction in ninth outright. Rob Pollard was on top in the Masters class on board his #122 KTM. Finishing the day in 13th position with a big lead over the rest of his class.

The large field of quad’s was led home by the Yamaha of Dylan Richards, with Waldo on board his #15 Honda TRX just a minute back in second position.  Luke Gaisford had a small mechanical issue to deal with at the last refuel point that cost him some valuable time, however he was still able to bring his Honda home third in class.

Having serviced and repaired their machines, teams will now spend the night in Gascoyne Juction before hitting the track for the 205 kilometer return leg back to Carnarvon.  With the weather forecast looking good, everything is set for an exciting conclusion to the 2019 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash.

Report and Photos thanks to Sean McTigue