Christian Rich has been crowned the 2019 CAMS Queensland Off Road Champion after claiming the championship’s final round of the season at Charters Towers.Heading to the Markwell Demolition 162 Challenge in 12th position more than 100 points behind leader David Skinner, Rich needed a miracle to take out the title, which started with winning the race.
The SXS Turbo pilot did just that as he led the field in all three heats and crossed the line two minutes ahead of Chris Sollitt in second place, while Gordon Fletcher rounded out the podium.
With the championship holding three rounds in 2019, every result was crucial to the end result and with Rich finishing April’s St George 399 17th, earning five points in the process, it proved to be the difference as the first-year driver walked away as champion by just five points.
“It feels pretty good actually. It’s our first year giving it a crack and we pulled off the championship so we’re very happy,” Rich said.
“We didn’t expect to be champions, nor did we expect to go all the way. I suppose you never know because it depends on what happens when you’re racing.
“We looked after the car as good as we could which we didn’t do in the first round. We focused on trying to get to the finish line as well as putting some good time on.
“We had never done any racing before hand, which is why we set out to compete as much as we could at the start of the year and go to each round. It’s a decision that has now paid off.”
With Skinner coming off an emphatic previous round win after scoring no points in the season opener, all he was required to do was finish the final race, but a broken axle on the second last lap ended his chance to for the title.
Despite being crowned champion, a proud Rich couldn’t help but sympathise for his rival.
“We know Dave pretty well and it’s a shame because his whole mantra is just about finishing and not going out there to flog the guts out of it,” Rich added.
“He broke his axle with just two laps to go and that was it which is a shame.
“It’s a demanding little course actually. There are some very steep little gullies and if you hit them too hard you are going to destroy the car.
“We knew it was going to be close, but not how close. It wasn’t long after we finished we knew we had won which was fantastic. The celebrations were really big. We were celebrating all the way home.”
While Skinner finished the weekend as the championship runner-up, he did leave with some silverware, taking out the North Queensland Super series ahead of Sollitt and Samantha Hancock.
For the navigators, Rich’s co-driver Nathan Mortimer was crowned state champion and Samantha’s co-driver Brad Hancock the North Queensland Super Series winner.
The Markwell Demolition 162 Challenge also had a special Dash for Cash competition taking place simultaneously across the weekend with three drivers entered.
Taking out the cash prize was Rob Turner and Waylon Jaggard who were just two seconds faster than Rich and Mortimer. However in a show of good faith, the duo decided to donate the funds back to the club for a new tractor tyre.