State news: Pato returns to Charters Towers in 2020

After a successful inaugural edition in 2019, the North Queensland Offroad Racing Association is once again running the Pato 7 Hour at its home location in Charters Towers.

The original event was so successful amongst the 12 crews that took part in the event, almost every competitor who was at last year’s event, will do so again this year.

On top of the 12 crews that competed in last year’s event, another two are likely to join, taking the total crews to 14 and the number of teams to seven, with a team made up of two cars each.

Headlining the field will be last year’s winner Christopher Sollitt who enters the event with a new navigator, while his biggest challenger is last year’s runner-up in Samantha Hancock.

Another notable entry is Simon Ivers, who will be debuting his new car.

With Queensland’s gathering restrictions easing to 100 people in total, the club is also welcoming spectators to attend, with club president Don Young, confident they can meet all required safety measures.

“We had a good time last year and the event ran really well, so I am sure it will run well again this year,” Young said.

“Honestly, we’re just happy to be going racing again because it’s been such a long wait and we’re really happy a lot of the same crews are returning for another crack at the event.

“As COVID checker, I am confident we have done everything to the right standard, but we’re very lucky with this location as it’s quite spread out. We can space the teams 20 meters apart, and there would still be lots of room.

“We’re also going to be reducing the amount of people in the control centre and introduce sanitising stations where everyone can clean their hands and continue to be safe.

“As for the spectators, most of the ones that do come just park their car somewhere and stay in there so they’ll be fine. To be honest, we don’t get a lot of spectators anyway, so I can’t imagine there will be any issues.

“Another thing I am proud of is that we’ve now got an improved track. It has been widened even further and it’s in really good condition so we can’t wait.”

The event will see two cars per team try and complete as many laps of the 18 kilometre course as they can within a seven hours perfioud. Sollitt and former partner David Skinner completed 27 laps in total to win the event last year.

The Pato 7 Hour takes place in Charters Towers on Saturday 1 August.