After two years of waiting, the Loveday 400 finally got its chance to shine on the national stage last year, with the event having run on the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) for the first time.
And the first national running of the event proved a South Australian family affair as Aaron and Chelsea Haby produced the perfect performance to come away with an emphatic victory.
While the Habys were in a league of his own during event on their home course, making up the podium behind them were another two South Australian crews – Brad and Paris Gallard, who also came away with the Extreme 2WD class win and Garry Turnbull, who picked up his first AORC podium in 30 years alongside daughter Tamara.
However the fourth round of the 2022 season was all about the Habys as they led the 75-car field from start to finish to win all six sections.
Haby’s dominance began with a win in Prologue, when he edged out West Australian star Beau Robinson by just over one second.
That was as close as anyone got to him as he won the opening heat by two and half minutes three minutes, the second by almost two minutes and the third by just shy of one minute.
Behind him, there was quite the battle going on with Shannon and Ian Rentsch up against Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd – the Rentschs ending the first day of competition just half a minute ahead.
On Sunday, it was a very similar story in the opening two heats – Haby dominating, while Rentsch and Taylor going toe-to-toe.
However, the final section on Sunday would see the event turned on its head, as both Rentsch and Taylor had serious problems –Taylor the first of the two to have issues after his buggy had wiring problems, which he was able to fix after 20 minutes.
Rentsch’s issue on the other hand proved to be terminal with his buggy experiencing untreatable overheating, which saw him retire on the final lap.
Capitalising on their misfortune were the likes of Gallard and Turnbull who ended up crossing the line in second and third respectively.
Finishing 12 minutes ahead of both crews though was Haby, who was thrilled to produce a trouble-free run.
“It feels pretty awesome,” Haby said.
“It’s a very proud moment for the team. The car was built in Australia and it’s absolutely brilliant.
“I am actually feeling pretty good physically, I could go out and do a few more laps to be honest.
“Being my home track would have been an advantage in the early stages, however once you do that first lap, you pretty much know where to go. Overall though, it’s fantastic.
“I am absolutely stoked and doing it with my daughter was fantastic.”
Finishing the event in fourth place after Turnbull’s incredible final section were Mel and Liam Brandle – the duo also winning the Prolite class.
Behind them, West Australians Brent Smoothy and Reese Burgess ended up taking out fifth outright, while 2019 AORC runner-up Roydn Bailey and Tyson Warner overcame a rough start to the event to finish sixth.
Making up the rest of the outright top 10 behind the Swinglehurst was Performance 2WD winners Chris Pickert and Byron Brown, Ally Howells and Sarah Corrigan in ninth and Pooncarie Desert Dash winners Taylor and Floyd.
Just missing out on a top 10 finish was Josh Wiedman and Steven Walton, however the youngster didn’t walk away empty handed, finishing with top honours in the SXS Pro class.
The 2023 Loveday 400 takes place on 28-30 July.