Eight-time Australian Off Road Champion Shannon Rentsch has labeled the Tatts Finke Desert Race as “really something else” and heaped praise on organisers, the Finke Desert Race Inc., for their commitment to making the iconic event better every year.
Rentsch is certainly qualified to comment, having stood on the top step of the podium five times at Australia’s biggest off road event, in 2005, 2006, 2014, 2015 and 2017.
“The track up there is very unique, there is nothing else like it in Australia and to go and race up there in the desert, it’s really something else,” Rentsch said.
“Each year up there the Finke club, what they do up there is pretty amazing. The effort they go to and the direction they take the event each year and they keep making changes every year and making it more professional and you can really see that over the years.
“From that point of view it’s really good to see an event run the way it is, it’s pretty awesome really.”
Rentsch said the atmosphere of ‘race week’ in Alice Springs is an added bonus to the event.
“When you get up to Alice Springs, that’s another good part of the event. Everyone there knows about the race, everyone’s so excited about it up there and it’s just great to see so many people get behind it, if only every event was like that.
“It’s really great to see the support and when you are racing down the track seeing all the spectators and campers, it’s pretty spectacular and just adds to the excitement of the event.”
Fresh off a win at round one of the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship (AORC) at the St George 399, Rentsch is characteristically quietly confident heading into round two.
“Yeah, I think we’ve got a pretty good shot as long as everything runs smoothly and the car goes well, I know we are in with a good chance.
“We had a good run up there last year but it is Finke and anything can happen so we’ll go up there and have a crack.
“It’s the toughest race on the calendar for us and the biggest race and the track is extremely rough. It’s pretty hard on equipment.
“Finke is one of those races where everything has got to go right. You have to get off to a good start with a good prologue. The last few years it’s been really dusty, very dry. I believe they haven’t had much rain so prologue will be pretty important again this year.”
Rentsch said the event is a challenge every year and is well aware of the quality of the competition he is up against.
“It’s never easy and this year will be no different,” he said.
“There’s a lot of fast guys racing and a lot of guys that haven’t won it before that are keen to win so it’s not going to be easy. I definitely know that I’m up for a challenge.”
With a huge amount of experience at the Tatts Finke Desert Race, Rentsch has some advice for those taking up the challenge for the first time.
“Finke, for someone that is going to do it for their first time, you have just got to finish, that’s the main thing,” he said.
“If you can finish up there without any trouble, you are going to be in for a good shot. Because there is so much effort, time and money that goes into this race, if you don’t finish it can get you down.
“For someone starting out, I’d say get a finish and work on from that.”