The official standings for the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) have been updated, with Jake Swinglehurst leading the way after four rounds.
July’s Can-Am Loveday 400 offered plenty of challenges to many of the 64 AORC registered crews, including Swinglehurst and navigator Kate Swinglehurst who faced a number of issues throughout the weekend.
Despite those dramas, the duo kept their place at the top of the tree as they were able to recover to a respectable seventh place and were aided by fellow title rivals Ryan Taylor, Brett Comiskey and Shannon Rentsch all suffering problems of their own – the latter of which failed to score any points at all.
Taylor’s 10th place saw Swinglehurst extend his lead out to nine points, while Comiskey limped home to 16th outright, putting him 19 points behind Taylor.
Fellow Extreme 2WD driver Brent Smoothy’s third consecutive top 10 finish for the season saw him equal Comiskey’s total of 73 points.
One driver flying under the radar this year has been Garry Turnbull and the South Australian’s first national podium in 30 years sees him slot into outright fifth – a position he shares with Ally Howells after she battled hard in Loveday to seal P9.
Both Turnbull and Howells sit six points off the two Trophy Trucks, and a further point behind them is Howells’ Prolite class rival Mel Brandle – the South Australian enjoying life after a season-high fourth place in Loveday.
Remarkably just nine points separate five drivers in the battle for third with an intriguing run home on the cards for many teams,
In the battle of the classes, Howells and Comiskey both have the edge over Brandle and Smoothy in their respective classes, while Taylor actually sits ahead of Swinglehurst in the pro buggy class.
Despite the outright championship leader having had better results overall, Taylor’s advantage is a result of having more section wins over the course of the year.
Geoff Pickering may have finally lost to Walkinshaw Performances’ Warren Luff in Loveday, however the 14-time Production 4WD class champion still has a comfortable lead over the six-time Bathurst 1000 podium player in the class battle.
If the five-car battle for third place in the overall standings seems close, the battle for the outright KINCROME SXS Motorsport Australia Championship is even closer with only six points separating the top five drivers.
Four of those title contenders finished inside the top five at Loveday, with the only exception being championship leader Greg Campbell.
Like Swinglehurst, Campbell had some tough moments during the round but recovered for seventh, only he didn’t have the benefit of his rivals having problems.
Instead, James Cook scored a podium to move to equal on points with Campbell, Joshua Wiedman enjoyed his first victory to move equal with runner-up Glen Akroyd just two points behind the leaders.
Slowly starting to find his feet in the AORC is Glenn Brinkman, who grabbed fifth place and moved four points behind Wiedman and Akroyd.
In the SXS Sport class, John Wisse remains as the benchmark, despite Eden Evans winning her first event for the year.
The BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championships continues next month with the Hindmarsh Shire Rainbow Desert Enduro on 2-4 September.