The dust has begun to settle after a fascinating Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Race saw Ryan Taylor claim his first ever BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) victory.
It was a brilliant performance from the Queenslander, who finished third in Prologue, before storming home to a 40 second victory over Shane Elphinstone.
Taylor’s victory was aided by the fact that the championship leader Josh Howells had gearbox issues on day one, and a broken alternator at the start of the second section – which saw the championship leader’s race all but over.
As a result of Howells’ retirement, Taylor’s victory saw him move to the top of the championship standings for the first time in his AORC career.
It was a moment savoured by Taylor and one that will give him confidence for the rest of the year.
“Being AORC leader has a nice ring to it and I can certainly get used to it, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves” Taylor said.
“It’s a great result for us to lead the championship on points going to Finke. We came to Pooncarie to get points and we couldn’t have done any better this weekend.
“We’ll take the same prep into Finke and go there to add some more points.
“Honestly, it’s been the best weekend ever. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Taylor wasn’t the only driver to benefit from Howells’ misfortune with Jake Swinglehurst also moving up in the standings.
Finishing in fourth place behind Elphinstone and Matt Hanson in Pooncarie gave Swinglehurst a second consecutive AORC top five finish – his AORC title charge aided by the fact that nine-time champion Shannon Rentsch also retired early.
Both Rentsch and Howells’ mishaps elevated Swinglehurst to second place on the standings – the highest place in his career.
“Super happy with fourth and backing up St George with a good result,” Swinglehurst said.
“I had no idea that we would be so high on the standings so early in just our first year in the car.
“It’s something I never expected and it’s really good preparation for Finke.”
While one Howells suffered on the weekend, an 11th place finish for the other member of the Howells camp had excellent ramifications for her championship charge.
With Prolite driver Ally Howells sitting in third place, it marks the first time in her own career that she is sitting so high on the standings – although she shares that position with current Extreme 2WD class leader Brett Comiskey who has finished inside the top 10 twice.
The next few crews on the standings are occupied by those who have finished both races, with Matt Huxley, Garry Turnbull and Greg Campbell the only drivers to have scored points in both St George and Pooncarie.
Their consistency has been rewarded with fifth, sixth and seventh respectively
Outside of enjoying seventh place on the outright standings, Campbell has also picked up two podiums in the KINCROME SXS Motorsport Australia Championship so far and currently leads the way in the championship.
Two top 10 finishes to Glen Ackroyd saw him finish the weekend in second place, just seven points behind Campbell, while current SXS Sport leader John Wisse sits in third.
The next round of the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship will be the iconic Tatts Finke Desert Race on 10-13 June.