With the BF Goodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) finally heading out west for the Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race, there is plenty to get excited about.
Ahead of the AORC’s first official visit to Kalgoorlie, re-live an event that saw plenty of attrition over the course of the weekend.
Taking place in October last year, the West Australian event was meant to run as the fifth and final round of the AORC season, however COVID border restrictions made it difficult to do so, meaning the event instead ran as the BF Goodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road West Cup.
Despite not being a national round, it still attracted a healthy field of 68 crews with plenty of star power having been locked into the Motorsport Australia WA Off Road Championship season finale.
Although there were a number of crews in the hunt for the victory across the weekend, it was the surprising duo of Nic Hicks and navigator Mark Gater who claimed top honours.
Despite not recording a win in any of the three sections, Hicks showed that consistency is key having placed in the top 10 for all three sections.
In what was an incredibly close finish, the second placed Jason and Kiera Galea finished just one and half seconds off the leaders, while Brad Krepp and Kerry Yaxley rounded out the podium a further one and half minutes off.
Starting off with a poor performance in Prologue meant Hicks and Gater had lots of work to do, as they ended up in 16th position overall – 46 seconds off polesitters Dean and Jordan Terry.
The Terrys were much faster than anyone else during Prologue, with the next best crew being Dylan Nollas and Matthew Boath, who were almost four seconds off the pace.
The polesitters took their fine qualifying form into the opening section as they finished the first lap of the 135km course with a 21 second lead – experienced campaigners Stephen Ketteridge-Hall and Haylee Cowling placing second.
In a section dominated by the top two crews, the third placed pairing of Steven and Riley Phillips were almost two and half minutes off the leaders, while Nollas and Boath had fallen down the order to end the section in seventh.
Just eight seconds behind them were Hicks and Gater who had done enough to start their rise up the field – however both the Pro Buggy of Nollas and SXS of Hicks were more than eight behind the lead car of Terry.
The biggest surprise result from the section was that of AORC regular Shane Elphinestone, who alongside navigator Adam Trewhella, finished the section a lowly 36th and 27 minutes behind Terry.
Elphinstone’s weekend went from bad to worse in the second section as he failed to finish the section– thus essentially ending any hope of a comeback.
Section two also proved unfortunate for Ketteridge-Hall, who ended up 28th and although it wasn’t as critical as Elphinstone, finishing 23 minutes behind Terry also ruled him out of contention.
Ketteridge-Hall’s misfortune and another section win to the Terrys saw the leaders extend their buffer at the top – a five-minute win giving him plenty of confidence for the final lap.
Also gaining a morale boost in the section second was Hicks, who finished in third place, with just half a minute separating he and Galea, who had bounced back in the middle section himself after a disappointing opening stint where he finished eight and half minutes behind Terry.
After two faultless laps, Terry was in the box seat to win the event, however his good luck ran out after having issues for the first time all weekend – the mechanical dramas significant enough to put an end to his campaign.
In a complete contrast of results, Elphinstone, who had had a nightmare run on the opening two laps, finally found some good form and comfortably took out the section by almost seven minutes.
There was far less of a gap separating the next few crews, with Ketteridge-Hall placing second for the second time, while Krepp and Yzxley were just 15 seconds slower to get their best finish for the day of third.
In fourth place were Hicks and Gater, and although they were 17 seconds slower than the trophy truck of Krepp, they crossed the line 14 seconds faster than the fifth placed Galea, which ultimately proved enough to seal the victory.
The Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert race will mark the final round of the BF Goodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship on 21-23 October.