Travis Robinson has officially extended his lead at the top of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) standings after securing yet another podium at the Tatts Finke Desert Race earlier this month.
With consistency a key factor in the AORC, Robinson has been the only driver in the competition to score podiums in all three rounds so far, and just one of three drivers in the top 20 to finish each race.
The West Australian finished third in the iconic desert race earlier this month, which saw him take his total season tally to 250 points – more than double the points to the next best driver.
Holding that honour of being in second place behind Robinson is Markwell Group Gold City 450 winner James Cook, who bounced back from a first-ever retirement in Pooncarie to finish Finke in 16th overall and move to 121 points. While Cook trails Robinson in the AORC, he does now hold the lead in the Motorsport Australia SXS Championship.
While the gap between Robinson and Cook in the outright standings looks large, it is not insurmountable. There also is very little separating the latter with the next few cars – South Australian Mel Brandle slotting into third after an impressive showing in Alice Springs that saw him finish 11th overall.
Brandle currently sits just 11 points off Cook, an impressive effort considering he missed round one, while Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash winner Raana Horan and Finke Desert Race winner Toby Price make up the top five on 100 points apiece.
Reigning champion Ryan Taylor’s big crash on Race Day 1 in Finke saw him lose ground on the title race, so too did Glenn Brinkmann after he had a scary crash on Race Day 2 – however, while both drivers lost the opportunity for solid points, they didn’t tumble down the order too far and sit sixth and seventh on 99 and 96 points respectively.
Greg Gartner’s runner-up finish in Finke saw him move straight into the top 10 and into eighth ahead of Glen Akroyd, who along with Robinson and the 17th placed Greg Campbell, is the only driver in the top 20 to finish every single race. Rounding out the top 10 is Daniel Hughes.
With all the contending drivers running with their regular navigators so far, Robinson’s partner in Andrew Pinto comfortably leads the Navigator points ahead of Mitch Aucote (Cook) and Nick Price (Brandle).
Finke also saw a number of lead changes in the battle of the classes, with both Brandle and Cook gaining top spot in their respective classes.
Brandle moved to the solo Prolite class lead after beating reigning champion Ally Howells, while Cook regained the SXS Championship lead from Brinkman, who dropped to third behind James Mogford after his crash.
Having attended all three rounds so far, Nicholas Commins moved to the top of the Extreme 2WD standings, while a class win to Brad Geraghty saw him move to the Super 1650 Buggy lead.
Solid results in Finke saw Phil Lovett (Extreme 4WD), Joshua Gaskin (Sportslite), Adam Jiear (Production 4WD), John White (SXS Sport) and of course, Robinson (Pro Buggy) all extend their class leads.
Rounding out the list of class is Richard McNay, who picked up the Performance 2WD win and registered the first class points of 2023.
The next round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship will be the Loveday 400 on 28-30 July, which opens its entries this week.