South Australian young gun Toby Whateley has streaked ahead of the field in his Loveday 4×4 Park Can-Am Maverick, grabbing the outright lead by one minute after section one of the St George 399 in south-west Queensland today.
It is the first time that a SXS Turbo has taken outright section honours in national competition in Australia.
The tight, twisty St George course was clearly to the liking of the SXS Turbos, as Lovett Racing’s Phil Lovett and Paul Guenthen and Fast Carr Racing’s Peter Carr and Matthew Wyndham, also in Can-Ams, claimed second and third outright respectively.
This afternoon’s three-lap section was run across two heats, with the SXS Turbo and SXS Sport classes contesting the second heat.
Results after heat one had Alan Dixon and Johnny O’Connor in the Money Box Racing Prolite in the lead, however a number of competitors, including Shannon Rentsch, Josh Howells and Tait Svenson, were allocated time back after stopping to assist Anthony Jones and Trent Challenger when their Peugeot 207 Extreme 4WD caught fire.
That all became elementary however as the lead SXS Turbos completed their heat, jumping ahead of SR Racing’s Shannon and Ian Rentsch and Howells Motorsport’s Josh Howells and Bryan Erskine, who sit in fourth and fifth respectively.
Whateley, with navigator Simon Herrmann, surprised even himself with the result.
“I didn’t think I prologued too flash and that came out good and then after this, I still don’t know what to say, it’s just nuts,” Whateley said.
Whateley agreed the St George course is perfect for smaller, nimble SXS classes.
“I think it is just the tightness of it, it doesn’t have a lot of straights in it and the ones that are, they are not very high speed, so it’s just good.”
On his plan for tomorrow, he said: ”Try and stay in front of Lovett I think, and to see if we can get around and have a clean run, make some dust for him.”
Second placed Lovett was low-key about today’s result but very pleased.
“I had a good run,” said Lovett.
“Jeff McNivan forgot to turn up to the line and gave me a minutes grace so I had fairly clear air there for near two laps and on the third lap we caught some people.”
Lovett predicted things would heat up in section two tomorrow.
“The track’s rutting up fairly well out there now and after tomorrow it’s going to be fairly hectic.”
Carr, sitting in third, sung the praises of the SXS Turbo vehicles.
“This category is just getting faster and faster,” Carr said.
“These cars are built well, they are well supported by Can-Am and Polaris. We can just carry so much speed in them. It’s a bit of a surprise but this track just suits them well.”
In class results, Shannon Rentsch leads the pro buggies from Josh Howells and Matt Hanson and Alan Dixon holds a 42 second lead over Tait Svenson and Chris Browning.
In the 4WD classes, reigning champions Paul and Michelle Malt lead in extreme 4WD by over a minute and Geoff Pickering leads Production 4WD.
Rick Chambers has a 27 second lead in the SXS Sport class, Richie Swain leads Performance 2WD and Declan Cummins leads in Super 1650.
Section two of the St George 399 will kick off on Sunday at 7:30am with section three to follow, with competitors completing six gruelling laps of the 41-kilometre course.
Section 1 Top Ten – St George 399 (provisional)
1. #621 Toby Whateley/Simon Herrmann 1:26:28.668
2. #697 Phil Lovett/Paul Guenthen 1:27:28.736 (+1:00.068)
3. #698 Peter Carr/Mathew Wyndham 1:28:19.504 (+1:50.836)
4. #33 Shannon Rentsch/Ian Rentsch 1:30:06.203 (+3:37.535)
5. #15 Josh Howells/Bryan Erskine 1:30:08.719 (+3:40.051)
6. #603 Jeff McNiven/Andrew Reid 1:30:14.534 (+3:45.866)
7. #153 Alan Dixon/Johnny O’Connor 1:30:21.975 (+3:53.307)
8. #118 Tait Svenson Chris Affoo 1:31:04.230 (+4:35.562)
9. #601 Greg Campbell 1:31:56.350 (+5:27.682)
10. #131 Chris Browning 1:32:02.151 (+5:33.483)