Toby Price has gone quickest on the opening day of the Tatts Finke Desert Race, claiming honours in the Method Race Wheels Prologue.
Price edged out St George 399 winner Josh Howells by just five seconds, with Beau Robinson rounding out the outright top three.
Today’s running gave drivers an opportunity to secure their place for the all-important starting order on Sunday when the historic race to Finke begins in earnest.
Price’s brand new Red Bull machine looked super quick across the short prologue stage, with Price laying down a superb time of four minutes and 38 seconds – five seconds ahead of Howells.
Howells, the current BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship leader, also impressed in his pro buggy, putting in a good performance that will see him second on the road to Finke when the cars depart on Sunday morning.
After finishing the 2019 of the Tatts Finke Desert Race in second, Howells will be eager to push Price from the get go and finish on the top step in 2021 to make it back-to-back wins in this year’s Championship.
Across the field, there were some tight battles throughout the classes.
Price was also the quickest in the Extreme 2WD class, with Beau Robinson second, while Gartner rounded out the top three in class 15 seconds behind Price.
Howells led all Pro Buggy runners, with John Towers a further five seconds behind. Aaron James finished third in class.
Meanwhile, in the pro lite class, Andrew Mowles dominated, 12.8 seconds ahead of Jason Richards, with Ally Howells third and 17 seconds behind Mowles.
Among those entered in Extreme 4WD, Hayden Bentley went sub-five minutes to finish 13 seconds ahead of Adam Murphy and Stephen Riley.
In the SXS Turbo, fan favourite Toby Whateley narrowly edged out Peter Carr by just 0.3 seconds, while Kye Floyd ended the Method Race Wheels Prologue just 1.3 seconds behind Whateley – a class that promises to provide an exciting battle across the weekend.
In SXS Sport, Brad Geraghty was too quick for his fellow class competitors, finishing 17.1 seconds ahead of John Wisse and 25 seconds ahead of Rick Chambers.
In the Sportslite class, Steven Graham put in a 5:21.7 to finish 8.8 seconds ahead of Dean Meginley and 12.4 seconds quicker than David Mendham.
It was yet another close finish in the Production 4WD class, with Jodie Allen edging out AORC stalwart Geoff Pickering by just one second. Tom Margitich finished third in his Land rover 12.7 seconds behind Allen.
The Super 1650 competitors put on another strong showing, Simon Tucker taking out class honours, 9.9 seconds ahead of Timothy Button and 24.5 seconds faster than Sam Vanstone.
Performance 2WD’s Michael Shipton put in a 5:59.6 to go quickest, with David Beavis four seconds behind, with Steve Nicol in third.
Top 10 Outright – Method Race Wheels Prologue:
1. Toby Price/Joseph Weining – 4:38.7
2. Josh Howells/Eric Hume – 4:43.7 (+5.0)
3. Beau Robinson/Shane Hutt – 4:47.0 (+8.3)
4. John Towers/Bruce Young – 4:48.7 (+10.0)
5. Aaron James – 4:54.1 (+15.3)
6. Greg Gartner/Jamie Jennings – 4:54.1 (+15.4)
7. Peter Costello/Ben Brooks – 4:54.7 (+16.0)
8. Andrew Mowles/Tegan Mowles – 4:55.9 (+17.2)
9. Brad Gallard/Dean Keyes – 4:56.6 (+17.9)
10. Hayden Bentley/Hannah Bentley – 4:58.0 (+19.3)
Images: Terry Hill