As the 2021 year approaches its end, state series and championships are beginning to wrap up their seasons and the Alice Hosetech & Industrial Supplies / Jaws Contracting NT Titles is no different.
For many Territorian based off roaders, the event serves as not only the series’ finale, but their final outing for the year – with the 18 crews take on 50 kilometres Mt Ooraminna course and fight it out for not just the title, but some prize money too.
Attending the event are several BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) stars from the Northern Territory, including Rick Chambers, Patrick and Brad Geraghty, Jason Flavell and Andrew Mowles – all of whom are spread out across the seven classes.
Although it’s a non-AORC competitor in Greg Hicks in the box seat for the title, his biggest challengers for an outright win will come from some of those AORC stars – most likely, Mowles.
However, for Mowles, he is just happy to attend the grassroots event, which also acts as a memorial for Matt Morgan, who was his good mate and former navigator.
“We sponsor this event and because it’s a memorial for Matt, I had this event marked in the calendar for a long time,” Mowles said.
“I know there are the two BFGoodrich Off Road Cups happening over the next fortnight, and I have every intention of heading to Loveday in two weeks, providing borders are open, but this race is important to me.
“It’s also the last event for the locals and because we have been able to throw in some prize money for not just top cars, but for the back end too, we think we can really help motivate the next generation of off road racers.
“For me, this race is quite personal. I wanted to support the club, it’s a race for Matt, it’s a nice competition with a high standard, and a win here would do wonders for my confidence.”
A win in Alice would cap off an inconsistent but ultimately good season for Mowles, with the 45-year-old sitting eighth on the outright AORC standings after the two rounds.
Unfortunately, Mowles had a horror start to the year with a crash during testing earlier in the year destroying his confidence for St George and led to a DNF in the AORC’s first round.
Needing a morale boost ahead of Finke, Mowles eventually got it during the Richard Bennett Memorial Enduro in Parilla in May, where he finished on the outright podium.
Success in the South Australian event was enough to give him his mojo back and Mowles then bounced back in style at the Tatts Finke Desert Race – claiming outright seventh and the Prolite class win.
The result also skyrocketed him into second on the Prolite class standings behind South Australian ace Mel Brandle.
Mowles had the momentum he needed to continue his charge, but unfortunately the AORC season was called off following the cancellation of the Hindmarsh Shire Rainbow Desert Enduro, meaning Mowles had to settle for eighth outright.
Despite the premature end, the experienced campaigner still hopes to get to Loveday for the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Cup – East, and to get a feel for the course ahead of what he hopes will be a big 2022.
“The NT title isn’t a shakedown for Loveday – assuming I can get to South Australia in two weeks,” Mowles added.
“I won’t even be going to Loveday to win, I am going purely for a recce because for me, it’s more about the bigger picture which is next year.
“It was so good to get my mojo back. You have to be confident in off road racing otherwise you’re wasting your time, and the car is in really good condition and it’s really developed. So I think I can do pretty well next year.
“A win in the NT titles, or a good run at Loveday, would cap off a good year, and it would give us more confidence for next year.
“If everything gets sorted and the national championship can go, we will be hunting for a top five outright finish and gunning for a class victory.
“The last couple of years have been tough and I was really looking forward to a big year in the AORC. Unfortunately, COVID-19 made it difficult again, but hopefully we will be okay to head to Loveday this month and finish on a high.”
Feature Photo: Bob Taylor