Tinga ready for Finke debut after Pooncarie class win

Paul Tinga is looking forward to making the biggest step in his off road journey next month when he makes his Tatts Finke Desert Race debut.

The South Australian will take on the prestigious event full of confidence after picking up a class victory in the BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) season opener last month.

Entered in the Sportslite class, Tinga and navigator Daniel Kelsey made it through the Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash unscathed, finishing 23rd overall and easing their way to the class victory.

Having had a forgettable AORC debut at the Loveday 400 last year, Tinga was thrilled with his performance in Pooncarie where he gained some confidence ahead of Finke.

“Winning at Loveday was bittersweet, as there were only two in the class, but to get a good result in what was only my second drive in the car was great,” Tinga said.

“I bought the car in November after originally driving a Super 1650 car and breaking the gearbox in three out of four races. Loveday last year was the last straw, so I decided to upgrade.

“I debuted the car in a South Australian state round in March and although the car was extremely interesting to adapt to, it did its job and I didn’t have any issues, so I was pretty happy in general.

“Then in Pooncarie, the aim was just to finish, but it was a bonus to get a class.

“I raced karts for 16 years, so I am pretty handy behind the wheel. As I hadn’t driven anything for a while, I wasn’t expecting much, so I was a little surprised with how well I adapted, but I am quite happy with how it turned out.

“It’s all a learning curve for me. With Karting my main racing experience, adapting to racing a car like this after so long is interesting, but I am really happy with the way it’s going so far.

“The biggest difference coming from a kart to an off road car is the suspension, which is quite strange.”

Photos: Dan Thompson

While Tinga will contest the Finke Desert Race fresh from the class win, finishing the race has often proved highly difficult for even the best off road racers in the country.

Because of that, he will keep his strategy nice and simple and his goals achievable.

“I originally wanted to do Finke on a bike but my body won’t necessarily allow me to do that, so I am hoping to wander down to Finke and back again and hopefully have no issues,” Tinga explained.

“The first aim is to finish, but I know what I am like when I get the helmet on. I want to go as fast as I can without destroying the car.

“I will give it a shot and see how well I go in Prologue and If I get up to the pointy end of the class, I will push on. It’s my first Finke so I just need to take a cautious approach. It’s going to be another big learning curve.

With that said, I have 1000km in the car, so I have the confidence that I can jump in straight and get a good result. Daniel by my side is good because having someone try to slow me down is unique in that space and we’re making a good team.

“Unfortunately, I am going to get to the track on Wednesday, so I don’t think there will be an opportunity to do any testing until Saturday. However, I am going to give it a push in Prologue, and I can’t wait for the weekend.”

The Tatts Finke Desert Race takes place in Alice Springs and the Aputula Community on 7-10 June.