As dawn broke on Easter Sunday over the outback town of Gascoyne Junction, the silence of the outback oasis was broken with the rumble of race engines as teams warmed up their vehicles in readiness for day two of action at the 2019 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash. Ahead of the competitors was a grueling return leg of 205 kilometres of tough terrain.
Leading the auto field away was the #44 Jimco Pro buggy of Shane & Curt Elphinstone. The Elphinstone crew had worked hard on the car at the completion of day one to correct overheating and steering issues, but without being able to test the car, would it hold together for the return journey? John Purshouse & Murray Hynes were set to take off from second position in the Extreme 4WD Ranger while Dean & Jordon Terry were looking to pressure the two front runners with the hope of moving further up the podium.
Any doubts about whether the leading Jimco would hold together would soon be dispelled, with Elphinstone charging through the course and dominating the days running, crossing the line in Carnarvon three minutes faster than their day one time and an impressive nine minutes ahead of their closest competition. The Purshouse & Hynes Ranger again ran faultlessly, the team backing up their day one performance to cross the line in second position on the day. After a disappointing event in 2018 when their engine blew on the way to the start of prologue, this was a great reward for the team. After having dropped down the field on day one after suffering an early puncture and finishing in 19thposition, Brad Cooper & Aaron Smithson charged through the field on day two, Cooper piloting the #968 BAT Pro buggy into a great third position on the trip home. Unfortunately it was not to be a successful return for 2018 champions Troy & Deborah Schoen. After dealing with the engine intermittently cutting out on day one, the team worked hard to correct the issue overnight before alternator failure on day two left them stranded on track.
Mathew Birnie & Rochelle Funneman were again the leading SxS Turbo team, crossing the line in fifth position on the day. Malcolm Yeardley was the leading Pro Lite buggy, on track to beat his day one time before a late puncture resulted in a stop. The sole Sportlite buggy competitors Peter Barrett & Craig Carson, back up their day one performance with another top ten finish, while the sole Super 1650 buggy of Michael Davis and Andrew Kingscott also made it through the day to secure the class victory.
Gary Kirkwood and Christopher Kirkwood brought their Production 4WD Landcruiser home to secure the class victory, Matty Beck secured the Performance 2WD class win in the Holden Kingswood while Russ Cullen brought the little Mitsubishi Galant home to take out the Extreme 2WD class.
In the moto section, day one leader Cody Upton would not only face stiff opposition from the riders behind and the tough terrain, he would also have to overcome a broken left hand. A rock thrown from a competitor’s bike struck Upton in the hand on the run to Gascoyne Junction on day one, meaning the reigning champion would need to fight through the pain barrier to retain his title. And fight he did. While not able to match the pace that he set on day one, Upton was able to do just enough to lead the Moto field home to Carnarvon, however he was made to work hard with the KTM of James McCarthy in second position just three seconds slower then Upton with Alex Moore bringing his Yamaha home two minutes behind to round out the day two podium. Andrew Somers was the leading Veteran class rider in 7thposition on the day, with Michael Lough leading the Masters class field home.
The leading Quad competitor was Luke Gaisford, who managed to bring his Honda home in 12thposition on the day.
In the all-important overall results, the top three in the auto field were Shane & Curt Elphinstone (Pro buggy), almost nineteen minutes ahead of John Purshouse & Murray Hynes (Extreme 4WD) with Malcolm Yeardley & Alex Cowan (Pro Lite) a further eighteen minutes further back.
The Moto section was led home by Cody Upton (E2 class), a little over two minutes ahead of James McCarthy (E3 class) with Alex Moore (E2 class) rounding out the podium.
At the conclusion of the days running, the 2019 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash “King Of The River” title would go to the auto team of Shane & Curt Elphinstone. After 400 kilometres of tough racing the Elphinstone’s brought the Jimco home just 11 seconds ahead of Upton on his Honda.
Report & Photos thanks to Sean McTigue
Full competitor gallery coming soon!