This year’s Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 is going to be big.
More track, more drivers and more anticipation means it’s going to be an exciting start to the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship next month.
With nine-time Australian champion Shannon Rentsch confirmed to begin his championship defence, all eyes will be at the front of the field.
Rentsch has had both a good weekend and a bad weekend in Queensland since the event’s inauguration in 2017 and both results have played a significant role in deciding who will win at the end of the year.
In 2017, Matthew Martin may not have won the event but he finished on the podium, followed by a sixth in Finke and fourth in Rainbow.
At the end of that year, Martin won the championship by the smallest of margins, beating Chris Browing by two and half points. Browning had finished ninth at St George.
On the other end of the scale in 2017, Rentsch had a horror weekend in Queensland with a DNF and finished 25th at Rainbow – his win at Finke his only achievement for the year but not enough as he finished the season just inside the top 20.
Fast-forward 12 months and it was a change in fortune for both drivers. Martin failed to finish, while Rentsch pulled off an incredible comeback to beat Toby Whateley in the final section.
At the end of year, Rentsch had won three from three and Martin was 26th after finishing 13th at Finke.
While a big result in St George is not the be-all-or-end-all of a championship title come August, it will play a major role in the season to come and provide a solid foundation for the drivers.
Ahead of the 5-7 April season opener, Rentsch, Whateley and Pro-lite Champion Alan Dixon give their thoughts on the Championship and the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399.