Mat Hanson will enter this weekend’s Tatts Finke Desert Race full of confidence after putting in his best preparation for the event in many years.
The Victorian has been in Alice Springs for more than a week now, getting a feel for the atmosphere as opposed to previous years, where he has had to rush from the St George 399 to home and back up to the Northern Territory.
With Hanson missing the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship’s (AORC) season opener due to last minute mechanical issues, the 2012 AORC champion believes the exclusion has given him an extra chance to finish the tough event.
“It’s probably our one bogey race out of all the three races. We have had the most trouble with Finke but we think putting in a bit more time and getting up early could make all the difference,” Hanson said.
“We were really hoping to run in the full AORC this year, but mechanical issues to the car before St George prevented us from doing it. But missing that allowed us to fix the suspension, which is the most crucial part for the event.
“We have been up for a week now, which is the longest we have had before a race, it’s a tough race where anything can happen.”We have been doing a fair bit of pre running which is something we have never done before and it’s quite simply the difference. We don’t have to drive any differently, but it’s just the preparation that’s key in this event.
“The car is running really well. Couldn’t be happier with it.”
In last year’s St George 399, Hanson had the perfect start to the season, claiming a prologue victory and was comfortably leading the first section until disaster struck.
With the Victorian puncturing a tyre midway throughout the first section and breaking his gearbox soon after, he struggled to get back to Melbourne and set up everything for a proper assault on Finke.
Eventually when he did make it, he couldn’t continue past the first day of the iconic event and his championship hopes were done and dusted.
With Hanson heading into the Central Australian event with the most preparation he has had in a long time, the ex-football coach will use a different approach for this weekend’s event.
“There is no pressure on us this weekend and we have can have a real throw at the stumps,” Hanson added.
“When you’re trying to win an Australian championship, you are content with just finishing every round and coming second, whereas when you’re not running for the championship, you can have a real go and go hard.
“I would say as we are out of championship contention, so our approach will just be to push as hard as we can because it’s such a hard course on crew and car that if you do finish it and up the front, it’s an amazing feeling.
“When I used to coach, I used to preach to my players that it wasn’t about how much we were winning by, it was a matter of looking after the processes and the results will eventually take care of themselves.
“There are many similarities between footy and motor sport, so we will be concentrating on that ideology and hopefully we finish near or on the podium.”
The Tatts Finke Desert Race will take place between Alice Springs at Finke from 7-10 June.
Click here for more information on the event.