New names join AORC winners list in Pooncarie

Dale Martin has secured his first BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship victory after claiming the 2024 Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash.

With Tanner James alongside calling the notes, Martin took out the win after a strong Sunday saw him pip James Cook and Mitch Aucote on the final lap of the event, while reigning champion Travis Robinson and navigator Paul Currie rounded out the podium.

In what was a thrilling conclusion to the opening round of the 2024 AORC season, just 40 seconds separated Martin and Cook after over four hours of racing.

Starting second and third off the line, both Martin and Cook were elevated a place when yesterday’s Section One winners Brent Martin and Andre De Simone stopped halfway through the day’s second lap.

Brent Martin’s retirement elevated Cook and Aucote into the outright lead with a 40 second buffer ahead of the final lap. However, a perfect run of the 106km course from Dale Martin and Tanner James saw them leapfrog Cook and Aucote for the lead and the overall win.

Photos: Dan Thompson

The victory was Dale’s first in more than 10 years of competition – marking a bittersweet result for the Martin Motorsport team.

“We’ve taken a few seconds and thirds over the years, but it’s been a long time coming to get first place. They’re hard to come by,” Dale said.

“We looked at the numbers (before the last lap) and my Dad said that we can do it and to put the foot down.

“So it was a bit of inspiration, a push from him, and a blinder of a lap where we didn’t miss a beat.

“Just every corner, every bump was perfect. And Tanner called a perfect race.

“We caught up to the back his (Cook’s) dust and got a feeling like, ‘Maybe we’ve done this’.”

The fight for the final place on the podium was just as memorable, as Travis Robinson managed to snatch the final podium place by just two seconds.

Robinson’s podium was a remarkable turnaround of fortunate for the reigning AORC champion, who endured a handful of mechanical dramas yesterday after winning the Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue. The West Australia eventually finished the race one minute off the pace.

Starting the day ninth off the line, Robinson managed to make up significant time in the morning’s two laps before getting past the Pro Buggy of Aaron Haby on the final lap.

With the top four cars all Pro Buggies, the best-ranked driver outside the class was the second OBR184 entry of Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt, who took out the Extreme 2WD class.

Finishing sixth for the weekend were Mel and Liam Brandle, with the 2023 overall runner-up taking out the Prolite class in the process.

Behind the South Australian father-son duo were a trio of Pro Buggies with Brett Rogers and Brett Richardson, Tom Owen and Damon Bennett, and West Australians Jared Percival and Brenton Gallasch. Rounding out the top 10 was the second placed Prolite of Benjamin Falk and John O’Connor.

In the Transportable Shade Sheds SXS Motorsport Australia Championship, Greg and Tori Campbell have provisionally won the class, after a big Sunday saw them overtake Saturday leaders James and Michael Mogford.

Other class winners include Jan Wisse and Emily Brandle in SXS Sport, Rick Chambers and Patrick Geraghty in Super 1650, Paul Tinga and Daniel Kelsey in Sportslite, Michael Shipton and Paul Chorlton in Performance 2WD, and Norman Parker and Mark Robertson in Production 4WD.

View the full results here.

The next round of the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) is the Tatts Finke Desert Race on 7-10 June.