Finke Flashback: 2019

They say good things happen to those who wait, and for Jack Rhodes, his time in the spotlight finally came 12 months ago.

Having entered the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race with podium finishes in the two previous years, as well as the 2016 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) – Rhodes was a man on a mission.

Driving alongside long time navigator David Pullino, Rhodes’ crusade didn’t get off to the best of starts with the South Australian unable to make to the top 10 in Prologue after rolling his car during the session.

However, a brilliant day from 2016 AORC champion saw him storm up the rankings to finish the journey to Finke in second place behind Toby Price, who had created a gap of more than seven and a half minutes between the two.

Ending day one in third place behind Rhodes was veteran Beau Robinson, while young star Josh Howells and Ryan Taylor made up top five.

Despite being second fastest through all checkpoints, nine-time AORC champions Shannon and Ian Rentsch suffered a puncture towards the end, putting a huge gap of almost 17 minutes between them and Price.

But as it has it many years before, the harsh Finke conditions once again took a toll on many crews as Price sadly failed to finish the event after early mechanical dramas on day two forced him to the side of the road.

Robinson also sustained a similar fate on the way back up to Alice Springs and his campaign ended prematurely thanks to a broken steering rack.

With Robinson and Price both out of the running, Rhodes had a clear pathway and carefully worked his way towards the chequered flag where he finally won an event that eluded for many years in the past.

“To finally get a cross the line in first is just a dream come true, something I wasn’t sure I would ever achieve,” Rhodes said post-event.

“I hoped and tried and put 100 per cent in but something would always go wrong. To finally achieve it. it’s something pretty special.

“Coming in from 14th to second… was incredible. We didn’t think we did that well [on day one] but when we saw our time, we were surprised.

“We knew we had done well but we didn’t think we were that good, so it was a really good result”

Howells and navigator Eric Hume staked their claim as potentially future champions, after grabbing a well-deserved runner-up finished ahead of Brett Martin and Andrew De Simone.

The big guns rounded out the top five with Mark and Matt Burrows finishing in fourth place ahead of the Rentschs, with the reigning champions having a impressive final day to move up five spots.

The result of the Burrows and Rentschs set up a huge final round in Rainbow later that year with barely anything separating the crews on the standings after another edition of the iconic desert race.