A good driving partnership is like a good marriage and last year’s Extreme 4WD class champions Paul and Michelle Malt are combining both.
The husband and wife team formed when Paul’s quad bike racing days came to an end due to the physical stress it was putting on his body, but he was also keen to share the joys of off road racing with his significant other.
“It’s great for me to experience driving with him because I had always seen what it was like as a spectator at either end but it’s not that same as being in the actual car,” Michelle said.
“We decided that we could drive our Polaris together and after a few years driving now, I don’t know how anyone does Finke on a quad. It would be very difficult.”
During their fourth year competing together, the married couple completed in the final two BF Goodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship 2017 races, finishing 33rd and 16th outright at each event.
Michelle believes the credit lies with Paul’s impressive driving skills.
“I really admire Paul and the way he races, “ Michelle added.
“I think we aren’t necessarily the quickest in our class but the way Paul drives is as much about conserving the vehicle and actually completing the races.
“That has been the key reason to our success for the entire time we have raced.”
With the Malts preparing for this weekend’s St George 399, the couple recently celebrated a significant milestone that they hope will give them confidence to do well at the AORC season opener.
“We’ve just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary,” Paul said.
“Winning a race is always something to be celebrated, not just our anniversary.”
The Malt’s unique living situation where they are limited to seeing each other just on weekends due to Paul’s work commitments, their car symbolises more than just a race.
“Because of our work situation, we can’t spend too much time together and sometimes racing is the only time I can see him but driving together is surprisingly easy,” Michelle explained.
It’s for this reason that Paul and Michelle take a lot of enjoyment from driving together with Paul happy that their time spent together is not just about racing.
“We’re not racing for sheep stations so not a huge amount of tactical discussion goes into our relationship,” Paul added.
For Paul though, the answer to the age-old question of who is the real boss in the car is simple.
“She is the boss,” Paul stated.
“She can tell if I’m starting to wear off and lose concentration and is very good at keeping me focused. She keeps me on pace, she is pretty good at telling me to go faster and passing on messages.
“When you are married for 30 years, you know how to follow instructions.”
Paul and Michelle begin their 2018 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship at the St George 399 on 4 – 6 May.