Shannon and Ian Rentsch have claimed a history-making sixth ‘King of the Desert’ title at the Tatts Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs today, grabbing the lead in the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship (AORC) in the process.
Rentsch dominated the event on his 16th attempt, leading from start to finish. The father-son duo started from pole position yesterday and set the fastest time from Alice Springs to Finke on day one, leading the event by three minutes at the halfway mark.
The eight-time Australian Champions pushed their Jimco Aussie Special Pro Buggy all the way, extending their lead to claim the outright win by more than 16 minutes in a time of 3:36:37.
David Fellows, himself a five-time Finke Desert Race winner, and Mark Bergaminn was second across the line in the Geiser Bros Trophy Truck followed by 2016 Australians Off Road Champion Jack Rhodes and David Pullino in their Jimco Pro Buggy.
Rentsch never looked like losing the lead but was well aware of a hard-charging Toby Price, starting three minutes behind him for the return leg from Finke. But Price failed to make the second checkpoint at Bundooma, retiring from the race after suffering a power steering pump failure and putting an end to his second Finke ‘Ironman’ Double attempt.
“It’s awesome”, Rentsch said of his sixth Finke win after the race.
“We’ve never won it from start to finish so to get the prologue, lead down to Finke and then back to Alice, it’s pretty special.
“It’s probably up there with the best one we have done.
“Toby was only three minutes behind this morning and I knew that he’d be pushing pretty hard. That truck would handle pretty good in the rough stuff so we just really kept going as quick as we could and really had no idea where he was until around 70ks to go.”
Rentsch will now take a handy lead in the BFGoodrich CAMS AORC pointscore to the final round in Rainbow, Victoria.
“That’s a bonus,” said Rentsch.
“Finke is the biggest race for us, we don’t think too much about the championship when we are here…but we should have a pretty handy lead heading to Rainbow now. It takes the pressure off from that point of view as well.”
Fellows was thrilled with his 2018 Finke Desert Race, particularly to have both Peter Kittle Motor Company entries making the podium.
“It was a good weekend,” Fellows said.
“We had a pretty clear run on the way down and on the way back and to get on the podium with both cars is a great result.
“The set up was really good this year, my navigator Mark did a really good job of setting the car up and I really haven’t touched a thing so I’ve got to congratulate him for giving us a good truck.”
Clearly, Fellows loves the event.
“Trying to win this race is a challenge and you just keep coming back and, you know, whilst we are enjoying it we’ll just keep coming back.”
Rhodes was happy claim third after a less than perfect weekend, rolling his buggy in prologue and starting down the order for the run to Finke.
“We started 13th and didn’t see much of the track until about the 120k mark and then unfortunately Ranna had an incident, he’s all good, but we assisted him. Then we got back on the track and couldn’t see it again so it was a difficult weekend.”
Talbot Cox and Andrew North were impressive in their Racer Engineering Carbon Series Toyota to cross the line in fourth and Michael Marson and Chris Colbourne rounded out the top five.
The BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship will next visit the Rainbow Desert Enduro in Victoria on 10–12 August 2018 for the third and final round of the year.
Top 10 Outright – Provisional
1. #33 SHANNON RENTSCH/IAN RENTSCH 03:36:37.3
2. #492 DAVID FELLOWS/MARK BERGAMIN 03:53:25.0 (+ 00:16:47.7)
3. #91 JACK RHODES/DAVID PULLINO 03:55:45.2 (+ 00:19:07.9)
4. #16 TALBOT COX/ANDREW NORTH 03:59:03.1 (+ 00:22:25.8)
5. #32 MICHAEL MARSON/CHRIS COLBOURNE 04:03:43.2 (+ 00:27:05.9)
6. #15 JOSH HOWELLS/BRYAN ERSKINE 04:14:12.9 (+ 00:37:35.6)
7. #110 SHAWN SWAFFIELD/ROBERT SWAFFIELD 04:14:17.8 (+ 00:37:40.5)
8. #21 MARK BURROWS/COLIN HODGE 04:20:34.3 (+ 00:43:57.0)
9. #482 MICHAEL MAGHER/DANIEL HOSE 04:21:02.8 (+ 00:44:25.5)
10. #23 PETER COSTELLO/BEN BROOKS 04:23:30.9 (+ 00:46:53.6)