Travis Robinson and Paul Currie have taken their maiden AORC round victory today in their #13 OBR Jimco, winning the fourth round of the Australian Off Road Championship, held as part of the Coates Hire Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour. Robinson shelved his normal flamboyant driving style for event, taking a more conservative approach to the tight and technical track that threaded its way through the forestry tracks north of Coffs Harbour. The strategy paid dividends with Robinson moving into second during section one, then stepping into the lead in the final section of the race, to cross the finishline in a total time of 6 hours 8min and 51.624 seconds.
Championship leaders, Shannon and Ian Rentsch finished second outright in the #33 SR Racing Jimco, just 32 seconds behind Robinson and Currie. Rentsch put an altercation with a tree in Saturday’s Prologue behind him to make a charge for the podium on Sunday morning. However Robinson had Rentsch’s measure and managed to keep him at bay in the final section of the race.
Rounding out the podium was Jared Melville and Kurt March in the Australian built #79 Razorback. The Queenslanders who have just stepped up from the Super 1650 Class this season revelled in the tough conditions and tamed the power of the V8 to lead the race overnight. While Robinson and Rentsch closed the gap on Sunday morning, it was a flat front tyre on the second last lap that would ultimately force Melville to settle for third outright in a time of 6hr 13min 52sec.
After a tough start to the 2013 season, Michael Marson, with Navigators Steve Gates and Chris Colbourne quickly settled into a groove on the Coffs course, unleashing the power of the Ford V8 in the back of the #32 Racer ProBuggy on the tight course and capitalising on their extensive suspension development in the process. Marson was rewarded with fourth outright, his best AORC performance to date.
Battling the extremely dusty conditions Hayden Bentley drove his #18 single seat Racer Probuggy into fifth outright.
Declaring Coffs as the toughest track they have ever raced on, the Alice Springs based team of Andrew Mowles and Tim Coach drove their #135 Prolite Razorback to sixth outright and the class win. Crossing the finish line in a time of 6hr 30min 22sec.
Talbot Cox and Andrew North cruised into seventh outright in their #73 Kadco, ahead of the #413 OBR Geiser Bros Trophy Truck of Beau Robinson and Ken Skinner, who took the Extreme 2WD category win. Like his brother Travis, Beau took a conservative approach to the event and took the class lead when Gallard retired with power steering issues.
Early race leaders Matt Hanson and Leigh Wells put in a valiant effort today to work their way into ninth outright, after a collision with a stump yesterday afternoon saw them start at the rear of the field this morning.
Paul Youman and Mitch Marsden continued to build on their overnight class lead to take the Performance 2WD win in their #506 Hilux. After working round the clock to rebuild their Rodeo after a major crash at round 3 of the AORC at the Flinders 450, Scott Gould and Matt Haywood were rewarded for their efforts with second in class and tenth outright.
Geoff Pickering and Dylan Watson were the shining light amongst the 4WD categories, comfortably winning the Production 4WD Class in their #711 Mitsubishi Pajero after 7 hours and 400 competitive kilometres of racing. Putting them on track to secure another Class AORC title.
“It was good to see a really good to see a proper offroad track again, rather than the high speed rally tracks we often get. It was really enjoyable and suited our car and made for an even race.” Said Geoff Pickering.
Rob Chapman was the best of the Extreme 4WD’s but was forced to retire with a broken crank in the #871 Pajero.
Chris Browning and Chris Clarke took the Super 1650 class honours despite hitting a tree in their A-Arm Lothringer. While Russell and Judy Hartnett who had been running as high as fifth outright in their Super 1650 Cougar also retired after breaking a rear trailing arm.
Fourteen teams completed all eight laps of the 52km course.
The Australian Off Road Championship now heads to Queensland for the fifth and final round of the season, the TJM Prolocker Lockyer 300 on October 26-27.