Aaron James has claimed a clean sweep of section wins to dominate the 2019 Richard Bennett Memorial Enduro and claim bragging rights in the 2019 CAMS South Australia Off Road Championship’s second round.
Driving alongside Tanner James in a Ford Ecoboost V6 3500ccTT, James was brilliant throughout the whole weekend, finishing the three-section event 10 minutes ahead of eventual runner-ups Chris and Colin Johnson.
Starting strong from the get-go, James extended the gap between he and the Johnsons at every section break, eventually delivering the final blow with an eight-minute third section win.
A further four minutes behind the Johnsons lay an intense battle for the bottom step on the podium with Extreme 4WD class winners John Smith and Trevor Snow finishing one minute ahead of Performance 4WD drivers Jeff Loader and Barry Sullivan.
Sportslite victors Mark Alvino and Jason Hannig finished the event in fifth place, making it five different class winners in the top five.
Course structure enjoyed by all
After a successful round last year, organisers made a number of changes to the event’s structure, including the addition of a short course format on Saturday.
The results from the short six-kilometre prologue saw competitors split into three separate heats for Saturday’s two three lap sections.
Sunday’s Enduro section was a shortened track compared to last year and ran for 22 kilometres and competitors completed 11 laps of the course.
Prologue Records take a beating
The Prologue’s six kilometre track was enjoyed more this year than any other in the past and there is good reason for that.
Of the seven classes competing in the Parilla-based event, four of them had a new record set, the most impressive being Aaron Haby’s 2016 prologue lap record time beaten by prologue winner James, Jack Rhodes and Haby himself.
On top of finishing in the top five at the end of the weekend, Loader and Alvino both enjoyed beating their own records in their respective classes, while Matt Curtis also set a new record in the Pro-Lite class.
Difficult day in Parilla
More than 20 drivers were entered into the event and unfortunately less than half of the field managed to complete the full 278 competitive kilometres come Sunday night.
The biggest names to fall was Rhodes, who finished the event in last after completing only one full section and Haby who bowed out halfway through the final section.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Rhodes who had recovered nicely from a first section DNF to finish the second section seven seconds behind James. In the final section for the day, the 2016 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Champion barely made it to the first turn, returning to the pits with a boost failure.
A number of top-five drivers fell victim to the challenging final section with Curtis and David Hall both out in the mid-stage, while Victorians Brent Plant and Tom McKee came within one and a half laps of finishing the event but ended as one of highest placed non-finishers after retiring on the ninth.
The next round of the CAMS South Australia Off Road Championship takes place in Port Germein on 22 – 23 June.