After almost three years away from the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC), Alan Dixon will make his long-awaited return to the national scene after entering the Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash.
A fan favourite of the sport, Dixon will once again be alongside regular navigator John O’Connor and will be behind the same buggy he steered to the national Pro-lite class title in 2018.
Although he won the class title, it proved difficult to retain it the following year, with a broken gearbox at St George and a rollover early at Finke ended his campaign.
Despite the setback, he still had intentions to run in 2020, but COVID-19 interruptions over the past two years made it difficult for him to get around the country and to focus on the championship.
After a long passage of time, the Mildura based driver believed his local round was as good a time as any to return to the championship.
“I guess now that COVID is over and I am based right near Pooncarie, it was the right time to come back,” Dixon said.
“At this point, I still want to do a bit of travel so I can’t commit to a full AORC season, but I may do Loveday and Rainbow as they are close to me. It’s still a bit in the air.
“I am excited to race again. I last did Pooncarie around 20 years ago in what I believe was my first ever Australian round, but I snapped an axle. Then I did it again last year but blew an engine just 50 metres into the race.
“It was a really boggy and really sandy track last year, but we have had lots of rain this year, so I think that the track is going to be quite good. It’s going to be hard and quick which is nice.
“I have since bought a new engine and put it in the car, but I still need to put in a rear main seal as it was leaking during some test runs, so we’ll see how that goes.”
With the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race being the last time Dixon contested the AORC, quite a bit has changed since then.
His main competitor in that 2018 title-winning year was Ally Howells, who also had a tough run in 2019, but has clicked into another gear in 2022, finishing sixth outright at St George.
With Howells likely to once again be Dixon’s biggest rival in the class this year, the Victorian was looking forward to the challenge but was more focused on his own performance.
“Ally has stepped up quite a bit this year and she is a bit quicker.” Dixon added.
“Matt Brandle also has a good car and will be just as hard to beat, so there will be some good competition in the class.
“With that said, I still want to beat my mate Jason Noonan, but he has since moved to Pro class so it might be difficult.
“I guess the first target will be just to get past the start and then to finish the event. The first part of the race has been hard in the last few events, but once I get going, I go okay so hopefully I can finish this year.”
Entries for the AORC second round close at 5:00pm on Friday 29 April and interested crews can enter here.
The Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash takes place in Pooncarie on 6-8 May.
Feature Photo: Show N Go Photography