The Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 entry list has been announced with 75 crews confirmed to take part in the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship’s (AORC) season opener.
Next month will see the country’s biggest names in off road head to the Queensland town of St George for the highly anticipated first round, including six-time AORC champion Shannon Rentsch.
Joining Rentsch in the record-breaking field will be a host of other familiar names such as 2017 AORC champion Matthew Martin, 2018 runner-up Toby Whateley and five-time Tatts Finke Desert Race winner Mark Burrows.
With the South East Queensland Off Road Racing Association (SEQORRA) experiencing the most entries ever for the event, Clerk of Course Barry Neuendorff was thrilled with interest from competitors.
“It’s very exciting to have 75 people competing, I am over the moon,” Neuendorff said.
“I thought it was quite slow in the early stages but it really did fire up and the entries have been coming in hot and fast. SEQORRA and I are just really over the moon.
“With so many crews competing, it’s going to make for great racing and it’s good to see a lot of people who competed last year returning to the event.”
For Neuendorff, the increase in competitors occurred due to the significant change in date, which saw the event moved a month earlier to help crews accommodate for Finke.
“Last year, the event was in May, which made it difficult for drivers wanting to compete in Finke in June,”Neuendorff.
“We listened to some of the feedback from competitors and bought it forward a few weeks, because we wanted to give the Southerners enough time to get back home, get any repairs done and head back up for Finke.
“There was a short turnaround last year and it’s a big thing to go from Central Queensland back down to the South and then get back up to the Northern Territory in less than five weeks.
“We were hoping the date change and our promotion of the event as the perfect shakedown for Finke would increase our entry list and it certainly has which is fantastic.”
While there has been an increase in the entry list overall, one of the most notable changes has been the growth in SXS Turbo class.
From no class in 2017 to a significant jump to 22 vehicles last year, the 2019 entry list has seen it grow to 26, making the SXS Turbo class the largest in the field once again.
Headlined by Whateley, who made a name for himself after winning the opening two sections in last year’s season opener, the first time a SXS had ever won a section there, the South Australian will have his work cut out for him this year with 2018 DEWALT SXS Australian Champion Simon Evans entered.
After making the switch from rally to off road, Evans will make his debut in the championship and is one of nine drivers to make their way up from Victoria.
New South Wales has the most interstate representatives competing with 19 crews taking part, while 31 drivers will make the short trip within Queensland to have ‘home state’ advantage.
Rounding out the entry list are 10 drivers form South Australia, five from Northern Territory and one sole driver from Western Australia with last year’s Rainbow Desert Enduro runner-up Beau Robinson making the long journey across the country.
The Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 takes place in the Southwest country town of St George on 5-7 April.