SR Racing’s Shannon Rentsch has won his fifth Tatts Finke Desert Race, putting him level with off road legend Mark Burrows’ five wins and one behind David Fellows six, five as a driver and one as a navigator.
Rentsch, with dad Ian in the navigator seat, started day two over three and a half minutes behind day one leader, Outer Bounds Racing’s Travis Robinson.
Rentsch immediately started pulling time back on Robinson and navigator Trent Anthony, and was within 35 seconds of the pair by the second checkpoint of the day. But a power steering failure on the Jimco OBR Nissan after the Rodinga checkpoint, only about 90km from the finish, put a heartbreaking end to Robinson’s race.
Rentsch went on to win the race by more than three minutes from OBR’s Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt, who were the first of the extreme two-wheel-drives home in their Geiser Bros Trophy Truck.
Rhodes Racing’s Jack Rhodes and David Pulino crossed the line in third, almost five minutes behind Robinson.
Rentsch said he wasn’t sure that catching Robinson was possible.
“I knew it was going to be tough, I actually didn’t think we would catch up to Trav. The car was working really well and I just tried to push really hard when we had a clear track in front of us.
“We got within about 30 seconds of him and then at about the 100km mark out of Alice Springs he was pulled up beside the road.”
Rentsch said the Tatts Finke Desert Race was without a doubt the one everyone wants to win.
“It’s the biggest race for us, everyone wants to win it; its the Bathurst of off road, hard on man and machine and it’s just unbelievable to get the job done.”
Rentsch’s win coupled with Travis Robinson’s day two DNF, opens up the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship, with only one round remaining at the Rainbow Enduro in Victoria in August.
“Unfortunately we missed the first round but we will definitely be at the last round down in Rainbow in Victoria,” Rentsch said.
“It’s nice and close to home so we will go and see if we can get a nice bag of points there and see where we end up. We will definitely give it a big crack.”
Beau Robinson was happy with his second place but disappointed for his brother Travis and the OBR team.
“We did an ok job, we can’t catch those turbo buggies. We tried pretty hard to get Rhodes in the dust and we managed to eat into his time but there was no getting past him,” Robinson said.
“Last night was spent on Trav’s car, making sure it was going to come home but we obviously didn’t throw enough parts at it.”
Defending Australian Off Road Champion Rhodes said today’s podium was reward for the hard work that has gone into his new Jimco Aussie Special Nissan.
“We were always hoping that misfortune happens in front of us, as bad as that sounds, but we knew we didn’t have the speed and the dust was at the point where there was no coming through. To get on the podium, it makes the day a little bit sweeter,” said Rhodes.
“Our new car only landed about three and a half weeks ago so it’s been a massive effort to turn it around, just to be here and to podium its definitely cool.”
Rhodes believes that this year’s championship is probably out of reach.
“We are always hopeful and always go into it fighting but there is pretty good competition out there now.”
Rounding out the top five were Michael Marson and navigator Chris Colborne, in front of local crew Steven Sanderson and Tahlia O’Cass.
Travis Robinson continues to lead the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship, ahead of Matthew Martin and Chris Browning (provisional).
The third and final round of the BFGoodrich CAMS AORC will head to Rainbow in western Victoria for the Rainbow Enduro on 4-6 August.
Top 10 Outright (Provisional)
1. 33 SHANNON RENTSCH/ IAN RENTSCH 03:42:40
2. 413 BEAU ROBINSON/SHANE HUTT 03:45:58
3. 1 JACK RHODES/DAVID PULINO 03:50:56
4. 32 MICHAEL MARSON/CHRIS COLBORNE 04:11:40
5. 3 STEVEN SANDERSON/TAHLIA O’CASS 04:12:41
6. 135 ANDREW MOWLES/MATTHEW MORGAN 04:17:51
7. 59 HARLEY LETNER/LUKE AYERS 04:23:00
8. 16 TALBOT COX/ANDREW NORTH 04:31:00
9. 23 PETER COSTELLO/BEN BROOKS 04:31:25
10. 39 DARREN AGRELA/STEWART ALLEN 04:43:20