The Motorsport Australia New South Wales Off Road Championship season has officially kicked off with veteran Glenn Spizzo taking out the Scotts Hydraulics Dondingalong Off Road Challenge.
In what was a thrilling affair to open the season after an 18 month wait, 41 crews took on five heats of the three kilometre course in mixed weather conditions. The fight for top honours eventually whittled down to just two contenders by the final kilometres.
Having qualified third, Spizzo posted the event’s fastest time in the opening heat on Saturday morning to move to the front of the field for the second heat, beating seven-time event winner Justin Guy by just one second.
Guy then bounced back to go fastest in the next heat and reclaim the lead by just seven hundredths of a second, which set up the scene for a thrilling final day of action.
With the heavy overnight rain, it made conditions on Sunday difficult for the final three heats. However the third heat is where Spizzo’s biggest moment of the event came, and the event was won.
Starting on the outside line, and off the muddy racing line, the 46-year-old managed to beat his highly experienced rival to the first turn for a clean run – wventually blitzing his way through the course to post a commanding second heat win by almost 14 seconds.
From that point on, all Spizzo had to do for victory was consolidate his pace behind Guy in the remaining two heats. While the latter won the penultimate heat by four seconds, it wasn’t enough as Spizzo then went fastest on the final heat to claim his first victory in many years.
Comfortably winning the final heat by an event-high 19 seconds was Thomas Dixon, who secured a podium placing within one and half seconds of Guy as a result.
For Spizzo, the victory was a much needed one after the Canley Heights local had considered pulling the pin on his career after a few years of bad luck and poor performances.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to win the event. It certainly felt like a nice comeback,” Spizzo said.
“I’ve had a couple of lean years in racing to be honest. Over the past few years, I have barely finished races, had three engine failures and had serious reliability issues. When you have a bad period, motivation goes down, so this win was a real confidence booster.
“I’ll admit, my drop in form came when I switched from a pro buggy to a prolite and I was just never able to find rhythm. I decided to go back to the pro class for one last attempt and put in a supercharged engine, which I attended this event strictly to test the engine.
“So to come away with the win was a bit of a surprise to be honest. I thought I would take longer to adapt but my thought process changed after winning the first section – I had the belief that I was in with a shot.
“I know Justin has won the event many times and is a quick peddler, so it’s nice to beat someone of his stature. For me the key moment was the start of that third heat where I out braked him, got the lead and built up the 14 second win, which was almost the difference.
“He was struggling a bit more in the wet, which helped me get to the lead back after that third heat, which proved pivotal. Being on the outside played in my favour. I am stoked for the win.”
The next round of the Motorsport Australia New South Wales Off Road Championship will be at Milbrodale on 31 July.
Photos: Gears and Wheels Photography