Mission Possible: Kalgoorlie to Loveday

After a thrilling Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race last weekend, the off road community turns its attention to this weekend’s Can-Am Loveday 400 for the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Cup – Central.

Taking place at Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park, it will be a busy few days for the 32 registered crews as they tackle 400 kilometre course featuring a variety of different elements.

Last year, both Kalgoorlie and Loveday ran on the same weekend in two epic days of off road racing, whereas the events are back-to-back this year, which has opened up the opportunity for crews to attempt the quickest of turnarounds – two events within a 10-day period.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

Just three drivers have considered themselves bold enough to take on the mission that will see them complete 800 competitive kilometres over two weekends, in addition to the 2000 kilometres between Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Loveday required to transfer the cars across.

Those brave drivers who have chosen to accept that challenge are Luke Erceg, Gavin Chant and Nick Hicks.

Interestingly, each individual experienced different fortunes in Kalgoorlie with Erceg retiring in section one, Chant registering a 34th placing but not making it to the end and Hicks being the driver to win the event.

In what was just his third ever race on four-wheels, Hicks produced a remarkable performance to claim a victory after starting from 16th place- a combination of good luck, talented crew support and quick driving all contributing to his efforts.

“I had very low expectations for Kalgoorlie, but we had confidence in the car and it was a fantastic weekend,” Hicks said.

“It was an amazing event. Kalgoorlie has just a great vibe. The track is pretty busy and there is plenty of tight stuff, which is favourable for the SXS.

“We went into it in the frame of mind that the event is not won on the first lap. We just talked through the race and took it one section at a time.

“Simon Hermann from SBF Engineering has been a massive mentor for me and has guided me through the whole way. I wouldn’t be in the sport if it weren’t for him and again, he was crucial during the event.

“We blew our front diff twice during the weekend – once in the first section and the second during the final section. When that happened, we thought it was over, but we stayed positive and flicked it into 2WD mode, which helped us nurse it to the end.

Unfortunately, the broken diffs have proved quite critical to Hicks’ chances of competing this weekend. However should he be able to find a replacement part, he fully intends to contest Loveday this weekend.

“I feel physically up to the task of doing both events back-to-back, it’s just a matter of whether the car is fixed or not,” Hicks added.

“We’re marching on as if we will be able to fix it. We’re not aware of any other diffs lying around due to a short supply, so fingers crossed the team can put it together and we can race.

“Providing we can get it sorted, my aim is a class win. But I am also conscious of those crews who know that track well, so it’s going to be a challenge.

“I have done about 20 laps there so I know the course a bit myself, but at this point, I am just focused on whether I can get the car ready.”

As for the other two drivers, both Erceg and Chant will enter the event hungry to get a decent result themselves –especially after the disappointment of what took place in Kalgoorlie.

For Erceg, he finished Prologue in eighth place and was travelling very nicely in section one before blowing a hole in his engine 82 kilometres into the lap.

Despite retiring from the event so early, he stayed motivated to run at Loveday and he has since bought a new engine, stripped it down and will put it in the car before taking it in for a tune up on Thursday in readiness for Friday’s Loveday reconnaissance.

Chant on the other hand almost made it to the end but mechanical issues saw him fail to make the chequered flag – although he was still classified as a finisher due to completing the majority of the event.

The South Australian is currently in Adelaide going over the car with the full intention of competing in Loveday this weekend.

The Can-Am Loveday 400 takes place at Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park in South Australia on 29-31 October.