After missing the opening round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship, Geoff Pickering is looking forward to getting his 2023 campaign started in Pooncarie.
Based out of Townsville, Pickering was originally entered in the Markwell Group Gold City 450, which was his home event, but had to withdraw due to his new Raptor not being ready for competition at the time.
Now entered in the next month’s Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash, Pickering was ready to race again but admitted there was plenty of work still to be done.
“We were looking forward to competing in the home event, but the car was not at an acceptable performance level and there were safety issues – put simply the car wasn’t race ready,” Pickering said.
“Unfortunately, it’s still not race ready at the moment, and it has problems that we have to get on top of, but these problems are not easily solvable.
“We have all hands-on deck. Everyone has put in extremely long hours to overcome the problem and get it done. It’s a long way for us to go on a vehicle that we’re not confident in.
“With that said, we still have every intention of going to Pooncarie and would only withdraw in extreme circumstances, so I am confident that we will get there.”
The AORC veteran didn’t have the best of times in Pooncarie in its AORC debut last year, having finished 38th overall and second in class, behind Jodie Allen.
However, with a third of the 60-plus field retiring from the event, it was still a decent effort from Pickering.
Despite the challenging event, Pickering still recovered and remained in the hunt for a 16th Production 4WD title right up until his last event – losing to Prominent circuit race Warren Luff, who competed for Walkinshaw Performance.
With Luff likely to return to defend his title in 2023, Pickering was looking forward to resuming his newfound rivalry with the star and entering the season as the number two.
“We got very badly bogged last year in Pooncarie, and we had plenty of hold ups, but I don’t mind because I still enjoyed it thoroughly,” Pickering explained.
“And that’s the case with every race we do. I am an avid off-road racer and I love the sport. I have no real ambitions to win, but it’s always nice to win at events.
“As a matter of fact, I am actually quite happy to go in as number two this year, and we welcome good strong competition to every event. It’s not fun going out there by yourself and it makes it more rewarding when you do win against others.
“So, I am very much hoping Warren comes back this year, as well as Jodie, so we can continue our battle.
“As for the championship itself, I really do enjoy every race and can’t wait to get to Pooncarie. I really like the social atmosphere at off road events, and I am very excited to get my season started.”
The Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Race takes place in the region of Pooncarie on 21-23 April.