Matt Martin will today begin his championship defence when the St George 399 kicks off the 2018 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship.
But engine dramas with the RaceCo USA LaTer Engineering prolite buggy have forced Martin to perform a last minute engine change, threatening to derail his title defence before it even starts.
Martin worked into the night in a borrowed workshop and presented the #1 prolite buggy for scrutineering this morning.
Martin was victorious in last year’s off road championship edging out fellow prolite driver Chris Browning by just two points.
Consistent driving for the champion saw him place inside the top 10 in all three races, adding a sixth and a fourth to his St George 399 podium finish in third.
But with preparation to the 2018 championship getting off to a rocky start, Martin has low confidence for his title defence.
“It feels good to be champion but this year just nothing is going to plan,” Martin said.
“We put a new engine in it but it’s been playing up so it’s got to come back out… and send it back to the engine builder and let him find out what’s wrong with it.”
Few people would have predicted Martin’s surprise win last year, and with all the issues that have occurred to his ‘Sherman Tank’ recently, the already gigantic task of going back-to-back against tough competition is even harder.
“We were fortunate to win last year but this year I did want to have a bit of a crack but if the car went better on the dyno, we would have been okay but it’s down a little bit of horsepower,” Martin explained.
However, despite all the difficulties in preparation for this season and not a lot of optimism from the Martin Motorsport camp, there has been no love lost for the reigning champion and motor sport.
“There’s no pressure really. I don’t worry about pressure anymore,” Martin added.
“I just drive my own race and then if I win, I win but if I don’t, then I don’t. It doesn’t matter.
“I’ve been racing for that long now, that it’s all about enjoying the sport.”
The first round of the 2018 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship at the St George 399 kicks off with prologue this morning, followed by three laps of the 5o-kilometre course.