Ahead of the 2021 Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race, which again doubles as the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Cup – West, re-live some of the key moments from last year’s entertaining outing with 46 crews.
Prologue went exactly as most thought it would.
Up front and 18 seconds faster than the next best crew was BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship regular Beau Robinson and new navigator Paul Currie in the vastly popular OBR Trophy Tuck, after the duo produced a near-perfect run.
With top spot locked in, the battle for who would start behind was far less straightforward as just half a second separated Stephen Ketteridge-Hall and his navigator Haylee Cowling over Shane Elphinstone and Troy Higgins.
Harleigh Uren clocked in his time a further five seconds off the top three, beating a pair of pro-buggies in Adam and Craig Trewhella and Troy and Deb Schoen to secure fourth place.
Jake Clucas, who was leading the state championship didn’t have the best of starts with the 2020 Three Springs winner qualifying in eighth place behind the fastest SXS of Friday Boyce and Chris Summerfield.
Just nine tenths behind Clucas was the second fastest SXS of Jason Galea and Kiera Mann-Piercy, while Dylan Nollas and Matthew Boath rounded out the top 10.
While Prologue saw a favourite salute, section one was quite the opposite as Elphinstone came out of the blocks on a mission and jumped both Ketteridge-Hall and Robinson early to take the lead.
Once he had the clear path, Elphinstone managed to charge his way forward to a lightning quick time of one hour, 13 minutes and 27 second– the lap proving to be the fastest of the whole event.
While Robinson didn’t fall down the order further, the AORC star finished the section 47 seconds off the pace, while Ketteridge-Hall’s failure to finish the section allowed Uren to move into third a further eight seconds off Robinson.
The Trewhellas also couldn’t make the section one distance, handing fourth place to the Schoens.
Rounding out the top five were the biggest movers of section one in Chris Kounis and Jhye Kent. The SXS Turbo pilots started the event in 12th and ended up powering their way through to finish the section in fifth.
Finishing behind the new SXS Turbo leaders were Nollas and Galea, while Clucas cruised his way through the section with nothing but the state title on his mind.
Elphinstone continued to impress in the second section as he extended his lead over Robinson by a further 19 seconds.
In a race that was fast becoming only about the top two crews, finishing the section in third place almost two minutes behind were the Schoens, as Uren became the latest casualty.
The gaps between entries began to expand in the second section too as Colin Bevan and Michael Dodds were the next fastest crew, reaching the line almost three minutes slower than the Schoens.
It was the SXS Turbo pilots’ best time of the weekend and ended up significantly better than their opening section, which saw them post the 14th fastest outright time.
Nollas and Kounis both continued to produce amicable times going fifth and sixth fastest in the section, while some new crews enjoyed a top 10 finish with Mark and Sam Cramer just beating Mark Jarrett and Glen Humphries by one second to claim seventh.
Although Robinson had gotten quicker as the weekend went on, he was unable to catch Elphinstone, whose third section win all but confirmed the victory.
Only six seconds separated the duo in the final section, but with the winner claiming a clean sweep of section wins, his outright margin ended up at one minute and 17 seconds.
Rounding out the podium were the Schoens after they made it three third place finishes from all three sections.
Nollas and Boath saved their best until last, going outright fourth fastest and almost three and half minutes faster than Kounis – which ended up being enough to leapfrog the SXS Turbo pilot.
It wasn’t all bad for Kounis and Kent though, as the duo left the event with class honours, leading a SXS Turbo train of Gale, Bevan and Boyce inside the top 10.
With Clucas coming in at ninth, he finished the event in the same position and had done enough to win the state title.
The 2021 Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race takes place on 21-25 October in Kalgoorlie.