Can-Am Loveday 400 organiser Tony Whateley believes this year’s event once again proved how special it will be when Australia’s best crews finally get the chance to compete for national championship points at the venue.
Although the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) was unable to run at Loveday for the second consecutive year due to the impact of COVID, the event ran without a hitch as 32 crews battled it out for Central Cup honours.
Winning the 400-kilometre race was veteran Hayden Bentley, while fellow other AORC stars in Greg Gartner and Toby Whateley were also there – however both drivers fell victim to the tough course.
With other AORC rounds such as the Tatts Finke Desert Race and the Hindmarsh Shire Rainbow Desert Enduro often regarded as the hardest events on the calendar, Loveday proved that it is no walk in the park either.
Out of the 32 entered crews, only nine were able to finish all 10 laps and a further nine fell just short of a clean run, failing to finish at least one of the five two-lap heats.
While the eventual winner in Bentley was one of the favourites heading into the round, the retirements of some of the bigger crews opened the door for some lesser-known names to enjoy a strong result.
That included podium getters Chris Pickert and Tyson Proud, both winning their respective classes.
With Rich Andrews and David Adams making up the top five and winning their class battles as well, all drivers in the top five were in different vehicles, which further reiterated the 40-kilometre course’s diversity.
And although the event was unable to showcase its full potential due to the smaller field, competitor feedback highlighted it will soon have a regular place on the national calendar.
“The event was brilliant as far as I am concerned. The lack of numbers made it less exciting between sections, however that will be fixed when we double our numbers with the AORC,” Whateley said.
“We are feeling good after the event though because all feedback from competitors and spectators has been positive. They loved the course, the format and the atmosphere, which gives us high hopes for next year.
“I think what this year showed is that it really is a driver’s track and that anyone can win. Even at a national level, I expect a similar outcome to occur because the course is made up of different parts from the best courses around the country.
“I don’t think there is any particular class who has an advantage and nor does any one class have a disadvantage and that’s because there is a part of the track that is beneficial for everyone.
“Loveday also showed that it is just as challenging as any other round on the calendar. Of course, a few of the crews probably chose to sit out once they had issues as it’s so late in the year, but if there were points on offer, they would have continued.
“That’s why I think it’s going to be really exciting next year. I honestly don’t think you will be able to pick a winner until they cross the finish line.
“I think the format is good and I am really excited for next year. We have some big things planned.”
The 2022 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship calendar is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.