With less than a month to go until the Coomealla Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash, the entry list is starting to take shape as a number of high-profile crews have locked in their spots.
Headlining the list of crews already entered in the second round of the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) is Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 runner-up Ryan Taylor.
Fresh from his maiden podium in the AORC, Taylor will be looking to make it back-to-back top three finishes and continue the momentum from the season opener.
Another driver looking to replicate their success from Queensland will be Mat Huxley – the New South Welshman having produced a magnificent second and third section to earn a top 10 finish.
Like many, this year will be the first time Huxley has competed at Pooncarie, which should make it a highly even playing field amongst the crews.
With one strong finish already under his belt, Huxley was looking forward to attending the event and believed that there was one part of the event that would make the biggest difference.
“We did well in St George and we’re excited for Pooncarie because it’s round two of the championship and we’re ready for another crack,” Huxley said.
“We would love another top 10, so if we can finish anywhere there, I will be rapt – it’s definitely our aim.
“I think it’s going to be interesting and a new challenge because I have heard nothing about it and I have never been there. I have only seen a bit of YouTube footage and that’s it.
“I know the president of the organising club quite well. He has been telling me to come for a while, so now I’m looking forward to finally going. I’m really keen for back-to-back events.
“Looking at the regulations, I think we’ll be taking a similar approach to St George because Pooncarie is also a long track and I like a long tracks because it gives you time to get into a groove.
“One of the most important things of the round will definitely be reconnaissance because there will be a lot of crews in a similar boat to us, where it will be the first proper look at the track, so we’ll be making sure we are taking everything in.”
While the likes of Huxley and Taylor will be entering the round full of confidence, there are also those big names already entered who will be hoping to improve on a tough start to the year.
Heavy hitters Matt Hanson, Greg Gartner and Beau Robinson all had forgettable weekends with Hanson out after the top 10 shootout, while the two Trophy Truck pilots were on track for podiums before mechanical failures ruined their chances.
In addition to those at St George will be those making their first appearances for the year with the most notable being West Australian Shane Elphinstone and 2021 Kalgoorlie Desert Race winner Nick Hicks.
Entries for the round will remain open until Friday 29 April, while crews wanting to take advantage of early bird entry price have until Monday 18 April to enter.
The Coomealla Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash takes place in Pooncarie on 6-8 May.