With the 2022 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship season well and truly underway, there are many drivers who have experienced a range of fortunes across both rounds.
From those who have scored well twice to those who haven’t been able to finish either event and those who have done well in one but struggled in the other.
Mel Brandle fits in that third category.
The South Australian has shown plenty of pace this year and has impressed many in both rounds- however he only has one finish to name.
Following on from a remarkably yet somewhat surprising appearance in the Cobb & Co Hotel’s St George 399 Top 10 shootout, unfortunately the race itself went all downhill for Brandle as he retired prematurely from the season opener
However, the pace was definitely there and the 49-year-old showcased that speed once again in the recent Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash.
Just missing out on the top 10 after Prologue, Brandle and navigator Melissa Brandle struggled slightly in the firstsection to end the opening day of the round in 12th.
Despite not breaking into the top 10, they had done enough to take the lead in the Pro-lite class and used that momentum to ninth for the overall round.
Even though there is still some work to do in chasing down class leaders Ally Howells and Sarah Corrigan, Pooncarie proved a more encouraging result from the duo.
“It was a good weekend in Pooncarie and a much better result to what we got in St George. It was great,” Mel said.
“It’s (Pooncarie Desert Dash) a very long race and was getting rough out there, but we remained focused on the long haul.
“It was quite tough and there wasn’t a second where you could rest. Even on the straights, you couldn’t have had a breather- you were just on it all the time.
“There was rough stuff, trees and dust, so it was quite a challenge.”
With no major damage occurring from the difficult conditions, Mel now has plenty of confidence for next month’s Tatts Finke Desert Race.
“The car is right for Finke and everything is where it needs to be,” Mel added.
“There is no grease or oil leaking out, but we’ll give it a good wash, look over it and give it a service.
“We love the territory and really love the atmosphere up there. It’s just the whole package – especially that we can make it a bit of a holiday out of it with the kids.”
The Tatts Finke Desert Race takes place in Alice Springs on 10-13 June.