Extreme 4WD leader Michael Dolan has enjoyed a solid season behind the wheel this year, despite competing in a class somewhat unknown to him.
A regular in the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC), Dolan usually spends his time competing against some of the biggest names in the championship through Extreme 2WD.
However the New South Welshman made the decision to offload his trophy truck at the end of last year and build a new one from scratch. It meant he would have to take on a new challenge while he works on the replacement.
And in typical fashion, Dolan has chosen not to take this year lightly in preparation for next year, finding himself in a tight class battle against Stephen Riley after two rounds.
In the opening round at St George, Dolan finished a respectable third in class behind AORC star Hayden Bentley and Riley, before grabbing second at Finke behind only Adam Murrihy who was running in his first event of the year.
The battle between the top two really came alive in Finke though with just two minutes separating the duo at the end of the great race.
With just six points now the difference between Dolan and Riley, the 35-year-old was enjoying his season so far.
“Stephen and I are pretty close and it’s been a really good battle so far,” Dolan said.
“What makes it even more interesting is just how different our cars are. His car is really fast in the open stuff, whereas my car is good in the rough so it’s been fun going against him because the cars are just so far apart.
“Anyone can win with any type of set up in Extreme 4WD and that’s one thing I like about this class.
“We have had to be a lot more strategic with our car. It’s very strong but it’s not the fastest car on the track so we’re more reliant on reliability than pure pace.
“It feels really good to be leading the class. In St George we had an almost faultless run and managed to come away with a good result. In Finke, we thought we could have gone faster but we just wanted to play it safe.
“There is no way we would have caught Hayden so the fact that we moved up to second when he broke down was a great reward.”
While Dolan is enjoying his season in Extreme 4WD, he isn’t losing sight of his main goal, which is to build the car for next year
As a result of the lockdowns, progress in building the truck has been far quicker, however they are still a little way from completing their project.
With the Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race and Can-Am Loveday 400 still to go, Dolan is hoping to squeeze in these events for some much needed experience, which he believes will help him for 2022.
“The car is all coming together. We’re a bit slow in getting parts from the US because supply has slowed, but we’re confident we should be ready by next year,” Dolan added.
“We’re obviously going to try and do as many events as we can. The fact that there hasn’t been any racing has helped progress the trophy truck quicker because we have time, but we would rather be racing.
“I have always wanted to go to Kalgoorlie. It is high on our list as we have heard it’s a really good track. Loveday would probably be more suited to our car though as it’s quick in the sand.
“Right now we have every intention to do both rounds. Being back-to-back certainly presents itself with some challenges but we’re looking forward to it and we’re capable of doing it.”
Photo: Terry Hill Photography