The Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race gets underway this weekend with reigning champion Shane Elphinstone hopeful of going back-to-back.
For the second year running, the popular West Australian event will serve as the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Cup – West, with a combination of local and interstate cars to battle it out on the harsh conditions.
In addition to the Off Road Cup, the race will be holding the final round of the Motorsport Australia WA Off Road Championship, as well as hosting hundreds of bikes who will be riding the same distance as the cars.
Spread over four days, the event will see more than 60 cars tackle the rugged Kalgoorlie terrain as they look to complete more than 400 competitive kilometres across three sections of challenging and unforgiving conditions.
Elphinstone, who along with navigator Adam Trewhella, unsurprisingly enters the event as favourite after BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) superstar Beau Robinson recently withdrew from the race.
Having a decent year in the AORC himself, Elphinstone’s biggest challengers will come through the likes of South Australian gun Harleigh Uren and 2021 Cochranes Transport Mid-West Challenge winner Steven Phillips.
With both drivers having had a strong season in 2021, the trio will be pushing the limits throughout the race and Elphinstone believes prologue will certainly play a role in who crosses the chequered flag first on Sunday.
“I’m pretty excited to get back out there again. I have not raced since the Tatts Finke Desert Race, so the nerves are beginning to come back in,” Elphinstone said.
“I am not going to be too overconfident, but we are aiming for the win and even though Beau (Robinson) isn’t coming, Steven and Harleigh still have quick cars and are in good form.
“The biggest thing for me will be doing well in Prologue. It’s the most important part and I never seem to get it right. I know last year I started from third and still won, but I get the sense that it will be different this weekend. I just need to get it right.
“I really do enjoy doing this event though. The whole town lays everything out for us and the atmosphere is just fantastic. The track is also fun and unique and I certainly enjoy it – especially around Lake Perkolilli because you’re going around 225 kph there.
“I am looking forward to the race and good luck to everyone who is competing this weekend.”
A busy schedule awaits Elphinstone and the remaining crews with festivities to begin on Thursday evening with scrutineering and the street party to take place at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club from 3pm AWST.
On Friday afternoon at 2pm local time, the ever-important prologue gets underway before the top 10 shootout runs under lights. With musical acts and other entertainment running either side of the shootout, fans will be treated to quite the spectacle on Friday night.
The action officially gets underway on Saturday with cars to run the first lap of the 121km course around 10am local time, before completing the remaining two laps on Sunday from 7am .
Fans will be able to attend the action from Friday to Sunday with day passes starting from $10, while event passes for all three days start from $20. All children under the age of 12 can attend for free.
For off road fans outside of Western Australia or anyone unable to attend, the event will have live streaming throughout the weekend, as well as Thursday evening’s street party.
Via the Kalgoorlie Desert Race Facebook Page, fans can watch the street party coverage from 4pm-6pm local time (7-9pm AEDT), Friday’s top 10 shootout from 6:30pm local time (9.30pm AEDT) and all of Saturday and Sunday’s sections for both bikes and cars, which starts from 7am local time (10am AEDT)
The 2021 Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race takes place in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region on 21-24 October.
Photo: Dakar Press Team Australia