The Production 4WD Championship had an impressive season in 2022 as a BF Goodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship debutant in Warren Luff claimed the title in a battle that went right down to the wire.
With 14-time champion, Geoff Pickering and Dylan Watson had been highly consistent once again, the battle went to the final round as Luff claimed the drivers’ championship, while Jodie Allen and Daniel Gitsham rounded out the podium.
Despite not winning in 2022, Pickering claimed the most victories of any Production 4WD crew with three wins over the course of the season, which started with a win in the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399, as the Walkinshaw Performance star in Luff had a tough debut to the sport.
Pickering continued to dominate at the Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash with another class victory over Allen, who was the only other competitor to finish after Luff was forced to withdraw.
After being in Pickering’s shadow for a long time, victory finally came for Allen and Gitsham on the biggest stage of all as she successfully beat Pickering and Luff at the Tatts Finke Desert Race.
Remarkably, Allen was the only competitor out of the trio that finished the iconic race, with Luff and Pickering both failing to finish.
The Can-Am Loveday 400 saw another thrilling battle take place as Pickering and Luff were just separated by five places in the overall standings, as Luff claimed his first win of the year, dominating all six sections.
Competition between the two was close all weekend, however Pickering and Watson were unable to start the third section, which put them out of the running.
Pickering then bounced back at the shortened Hindmarsh Shire Rainbow Desert Enduro courtesy of a strong Saturday.
The final race of the year, the Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race, proved a pivotal event in the title battle as 798 points separated Pickering and Luff, and with the veteran not in attendance, it was crucial that Luff came away with a result in order to take out the class title.
Victory would eventually come for Graeme and Jordan Bentink who made their 2022 Production 4WD debut in Kalgoorlie.
Luff and co-driver Anthony Rammuno went on to secure a podium for the event, which ultimately secured them the class title.
“It was amazing for all of us involved in the program to be honest as it probably exceeded all expectations,” Luff said.
“We went into the year knowing that we were all rookies in this off road field – from myself as a driver to the team being able to build, engineer and run a car.” Luff said.
“I think we had some amazing highs and some big lows as well, as there were results where we should have done a lot better due to mechanical issues. Obviously, Finke was one of those events where we had the suspension failure on the way down on the first leg before famously managing to finish on three wheels.
“I think that was very much the philosophy in our whole season, that we just never gave up.
“Whenever there was a problem, the team we had working both at the events and back at the factory never gave up and we kept pushing on and kept wanting to do better.
“I have to thank everyone at Walkinshaw Performance and everyone that’s been involved in the program right through the whole year, there has been so many people behind the scenes and at the factory right through to those that come away with us on the weekends.
“Everyone has been so instrumental in making this program happen and turn this dream into a reality.”
With Ramunno having not contested the full season, Dylan Watson ended up taking out the Navigator standings.
Production 4WD Driver Standings
1. Warren Luff – 2238 points
2. Geoff Pickering – 2151 points
3. Jodie Allen – 1731 points
4. Graeme Bentink – 915 points
Production 4WD Navigator Standings
1. Dylan Watson – 2151 points
2. Daniel Gitsham – 1731 points
3. Anthony Ramunno – 1674 points
4. Jordan Bentink – 915 points
5. David Kermond – 564