BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship leader Travis Robinson is in the box seat for this weekend’s Tatts Finke Desert Race, setting the fastest time in this morning’s prologue.
Outer Bounds Racing’s Robinson, with navigator Trent Anthony, was over three-seconds faster than SR Racing’s Shannon and Ian Rentsch, with 2016 Australian Off Road Champion Jack Rhodes in third, a further two seconds behind.
“It was a good run today, we kept it steady; we rolled it here in prologue last year so we took it easy and we were lucky enough to come away with the win,” Robinson said.
Robinson had mixed feelings about being first on the road for day one of the Tatts Finke Desert Race.
“It’s good and bad being in front in this race; it’s not like a lap race where you can catch the car in front and then cruise because you know where the field is,” Robinson explained.
“Here you can drive too hard and break it, or just manage it to get to Finke but you don’t know where the rest of the competitors are so its a tricky one with strategy.
“It’s going to be dusty and very rough but we will do what we usually do and hopefully we can get down and back.”
Rentsch, driving the Jimco Buggy Nissan 3500cc, was satisfied with the second fastest time in prologue today.
“It would have been nice to be first because it’s going to be fairly dusty but having said that it’s not always ideal to be first either; second is pretty good and hopefully we can get down and back, it’s a very tough event and hopefully the car holds together.”
The four-time Finke Desert Race winner expects the competition this year to be fierce.
“Every year the competition is strong up here and this year there are a lot of quick trucks as well, they are not far behind us, so we will have to keep an eye on them; hopefully the buggies still finish first.”
Asked what keeps him and his father Ian Renstch at the pointy end of the field year after year, Renstsh said: “It’s a lot of hard work and trying to stay on top of everything and really trying to improve from year to year. We still enjoy doing it and still really want to win and that is what keeps us motivated.”
Rhodes Racing’s Jack Rhodes, with navigator David Pulino, overcame early nerves to claim the third fastest time of the day.
“I’m pretty surprised; I had a few nervous corners early on but then settled into the rest of the lap well and we were able to salvage a good prologue by the end.”
Rhodes was just happy to be running with mechanical issues threatening to sideline his new Jimco Aussie Special Nissan 3500cc before the event even started.
“Leading into it we were not even sure if we were going to be able to race, we only just made reconnaissance with a few engine issues, the radiator struggling to hold water, so we will go back tonight and try and rectify the problems,” he said.
“We have a new radiator that we will chuck in and hopefully we have it right to make it to Finke tomorrow.”
Outer Bounds Racing’s Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt were fourth fastest in their Geiser Bros Trophy Truck with Greg Gartner rounding out the top five in his Ford F150.
Andrew Mowles was the first of the prolite buggies in ninth with Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame inductee Mark Burrows in tenth.
SMU Racing’s Matt Hanson had a day to forget, a fuel pump failure preventing him from running in prologue and ultimately forcing his withdrawal from the event, with Hanson unable to get his hands on another fuel pump.
Day one of the Tatts Finke Desert Race kicks off from Alice Springs tomorrow with the first car leaving at 7:15am; day two competition commences at 7:15am at Finke on Monday with the first cars due back in Alice Springs around 9am.