The small rural town of St George will soon be the centre of attention when it hosts the St George 399, the opening round of the 2018 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship (AORC).
Reigning co-driver champion Chris Clarke returns to the competition once again alongside Chris Browning, who was last year’s runner-up, as the duo look to build on their 2017 performances.
With eight-time champion Shannon Rentsch making his debut at the race, Clarke was still confident that the team has the right tools to be near the top.
“This year we have a good car, a good package and other Chris [Browning] is a great driver so we are really looking forward to the season,” Clarke said.
“Last year was a different year with the big names not attending some of the races due to Jack Rhodes’ wedding, so it was a bit of surprise to eventually win outright. However it was fantastic and a great honour.
“It was very exciting to win especially because we were just concentrating on the Prolite class. It’s going to be a long time before a prolite will up the top near the pointy end of the championship again.”
Since the inaugural Queensland race last year, event organisers have made track changes to help even out the competition, as well as give spectators a better view of the race.
Whilst Clarke enjoyed navigating his driver through the circuit, he welcomed the new additions and was looking forward to researching the new track.
“We are yet to go up, but will most likely head over on Friday and do a reconnaissance with the rest,” Clarke added.
“I have had a quick look at the map to keep up to date with the changes but 12 months is a long time since we’ve been out there.
“Both Chris and I didn’t mind the track at all last year. It was quite fast in places, but with the track being longer, it will definitely be better.
“There was one section in the bush which had a really tricky switchback corner, I had to remind Chris every time we got near it in case he didn’t remember it.”
Whilst navigating comes naturally to Clarke, keeping focused throughout the long distance always proves a challenge with his role more difficult than one might expect.
“There are a lot of things I need to keep an eye on. It’s not just about watching the track and corners, I need to keep track of the car’s gauges as well as look at the mirrors too. It’s my job to keep an eye on traffic coming up behind us,” Clarke explained.
Clarke will start his championship defence at the opening round of the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship in St George on 4 -6 May.