The opening round of the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Championship (AORC) is closing in as crews prepare for the Cobbs and Co Hotel St George 399.
With more than 70 drivers taking part in first round of the AORC, aorc.com.au previews some of the classes in the second of three editions.
Extreme 2WD – 9 Crews
It might not be the Pro-buggy class, but the Extreme 2wd has some of the biggest names in the sport and always seems to have a say in the outright standings.
Headlining the nine-crew class are three veterans of the sport with Northern Territorian Brett Taylor set to defend his title on a high – and it’s going to be a tall order after Taylor missed last year’s round and came eighth in class in 2017.
Taylor will have his work cut out for him with 2017 St George 399 runner-up Greg Gartner back in the championship after not competing last year. Gartner missed the opening section (round?) last year but was near perfect after.
A driver to always (not needed) look out for is Beau Robinson. Despite Robinson being absent from last year’s round, he picked up third outright in 2017 has a host of other podiums to his name making him very confident of a solid result going into the round.
The class also boast the likes of Hayden Bentley who has two Tatts Finke Desert Race victories to his name. Like a number of top-end competitors, he is yet to compete at St George which will add a little bit of spice to the already strong class.
Performance 2WD – 2 crews
For the second year running, the Performance 2WD class is present at the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 and it’s the same two locals up against each other.
In 2018, Richie Swain and Karl Prolongaeu were victorious over Andrew Barber as the latter was unable to start the section, ultimately handing the victory to Swain.
This year, Swain has a new co-driver in Nic Fielding and Barber is back flying solo again but will be eager to finish the race ahead of his cross-town rival.
Production 4WD – 2 Crews
Another two-horse class battle will take place between two of the class’ great servants. In one corner is 13-time class champion Geoff Pickering, while in the other is local sensation Jodie Allen.
The two have gone head-to-head for the past two years with Pickering holding the advantage of two wins over his younger rival, however a stellar year in 2018 and another admission into this year’s Tatts Finke Desert Race will have Allen raring to get one up over the reigning class champion.
Pickering has dominated the class for years and while he has indicated that he will keep going for as long as he is able, there could be handing over of the champion baton with Allen a worthy recipient.
Extreme 4WD – 5 crews
It’s going to be interesting in the Extreme 4WD class as the husband-wife champion team of Paul and Michelle Malt will not be in attendance, blowing the field wide open.
Headlining the five-crew field are local boys Lucas Yates and Jim Bardsley who took out the class last year ahead of the Malts.
The remaining four crews will be making their debuts on the Queensland track with the exception of Anthony Jones who has made the switch to co-driving duties for Anthony Brose.
The rest of the class is made up of two New South Wales based crews headed by Kerry Turley and Joshua Nurrish, while another Queenslander in Christian Trusz rounds out the class.