RENTSCH ON SEVENTH HEAVEN
RENTSCH WINS BACK TO BACK AORC TITLES AT TJM LOCKYER 300...
Shannon and Ian Rentsch have successfully defended their Australian Off Road Championship crown
after winning their seventh career Aus #1 title behind the wheel of the Hogs Breath Cafe / BFGoodrich
Tires Jimco at the TJM Lockyer 300 in Queensland last weekend. Heading into the weekend, three competitors were in contention for the title, including Rentsch, Tonka Outer Bounds Racing’s Beau Robinson and Ken Skinner (#402) and Rhodes Racing’s Jack Rhodes and David Pullino (#91).
Rentsch started the weekend in front after winning their first pole position of the season, ahead of
championship rival Jack Rhodes and local hot shot Michael Collins in the #12 Chenowth.
“We knew the prologue would be important here because it was dusty and tight. We decided to go for it
and won the prologue.” Said Rentsch. Rentsch maintained the upper hand during Saturday afternoons first two lap section. Setting up a 13.4seclead over Rhodes heading in to the overnight break. Meanwhile the #138 Karcher Prolite of Fehlhaber and Howell had been one of the big movers of the day, leaping from 6th on the grid to third on the road.
On Sunday morning Rhodes bounced back during section two, and blasted away from the startline for the
final two laps with a slender lead on Rentsch. “It’s been close between us all weekend.” said Rentsch, “Going into the last two laps there was only 5 sec between us and it was going to be on for young and old and an exciting finish. But unfortunately for Jack he got a flat tyre and it took the pressure off us. ”
Shannon and Ian Rentsch crossed the finishline in an overall time of 4 hours 32min 51.247sec to not only
take the outright win at the TJM Lockyer 300, but seal their seventh AORC title. It was the Victorian
team’s fifth straight podium finish and third outright event win this year, including the iconic Tatts Finke
Desert Race and the Pedders Suspension Coffs Coast 400. “It was great to get a seventh championship win. It is a little but hard to believe we have equaled Mark Burrows record of seven AORC titles. Mark is someone who we have always looked up to from the start.” Said Rentsch
Run on private land at Mulgowie, approximately 100km west of Brisbane, the Lockyer Valley’s dry
and dusty conditions tested competitors to the limit as they threaded their way through the tree-lined course.
After 300km of racing it was Jack Rhodes and David Pullino who finished second outright in the #91
Jimco. A flat tyre just 2km into the final section when they were leading the race robbed the South
Australian team to secure their second AORC win of the season.
Despite pressure from #24 Ryan Taylor and #110 Shawn Swaffield, Tony Fehlhaber and Garry Howell
drove flawlessly in their #138 Prolite Chenowth to finish the event in third outright. It was the
Queenslanders first AORC podium and the Prolite Class win delivered them the 2014 AORC Prolite Class
Championship. In the outright championship chase, South Australian Jack Rhodes locked up second overall for 2014 with his second place at the final round, the TJM Lockyer 300. In his best AORC season to date Rhodes went from strength to strength, securing his first AORC podium, second outright at the Tatts Finke Desert Race, before taking his maiden outright victory at round 3, the Toyo Tires Riverland Enduro in South Australia.
“The result this year in the championship to get second is awesome. It is great to give something back to
the team who put so much in to support it all. Hopefully this year has been a stepping stone to maybe
some more higher finishes next year.” Third outright in the 2014 Australian Off Road Championship was West Australian Beau Robinson, pilot of the #402 Tonka Outer Bounds Racing Trophy Truck. Robinson proved to be a force all season in the V8 powered Geiser Bros TT, winning round 1 on his home turf in Kalgoorlie and backed it up with Extreme 2WD Class winning performances at Finke and Lockyer.
"It is a great feeling to win the Class Championship and to finish 3rd in the outright Championship," said Beau.
The final round in Queensland also saw many of the AORC class titles going down to the wire. Attack
proved to be the best form of defence for Tony Fehlhaber and Garry Howell in the race for the AORC
Prolite honours. The duo pushed their #138 Karcher Chenowth to the limit until they greeted the
chequered flag at Lockyer, to keep the #121 Raceco of close rivals Matt and Kerri Martin at bay.
Chris Browning and Chris Clarke had the Super 1650 AORC class title completely sewn up prior to
starting the final round at Lockyer, with class wins at Finke, the Riverland Enduro and Coffs. Determined
to finish the season on a high Browning charged from the outset in the #202 CnC Lothringer, to be the
quickest of his class mates through the trees all weekend to take the Super 1650 class win.
The gladiatorial battle for the Extreme 2WD class honours between the trucks of #402 Beau
Robinson/Ken Skinner and #403 Greg Gartner/Jamie Jennings continued at the TJM Lockyer 300.
Gartner had arrived in Queensland on a high after a dominating performance at round 4 in Coffs.
However Robinson still held the balance of power with class wins at Kalgoorlie and Finke, setting up an
epic decider. When the lights went green on Saturday morning Robinson quickly gained the upper hand when a small transmission fire sidelined Gartner’s Ford F-150 TT. However on Sunday morning Gartner was back in
action, unleashing the power of his V8 on the narrow forestry tracks and farmland in the Valley to take
the section two win. Meanwhile power steering issues forced Robinson to limp his truck back to the
section two finishline, setting up a frantic service interval to repair the truck in time for final two laps of
the season. Gartner streaked out of the arena ahead of Robinson, but failed to make the finishline with
transmission issues. Leaving Robinson and Skinner to take the Extreme 2WD Class honours for Lockyer
and seal the 2014 Extreme 2WD AORC Championship.
After finishing second in the Performance 2WD Class in 2013, Queenslands Paul Youman and Mitch
Marsden were determined to go one place better in 2014. With class leading performances earlier in theseason, Youman banked enough points in sections 1 & 2 to claim the coveted #501 number plate. Despite
taking a well deserved class win in the #503 TJM Ford Ranger at the final round, Dan Osinski and Joe
Butterworth were forced to settle for second in the class championship
The Extreme 4WD decider proved to be a battle of the fittest, with Luke Ayers and Josh Attard
overcoming a major engine miss on Saturday to win the category in their #841 V8 powered 70 series
Landcruiser. Earlier in the weekend #871 Clayton Chapman and Adam McGuire were quick out of the
blocks, but a flat tyre then a loss of rear drive forced their retirement on completion of section 2. #802
Colin Hunter and Simon Campbell failed to finish section one on Saturday, but returned to the track on
Sunday to post some quick lap times and gain valuable Championship points in their Dodge Dakota.
However they were unable to overhaul the #871 Mitsubishi Triton on the leaderboard, leaving Clayton
Chapman and Adam Mcguire to add an AORC Extreme 4WD Class Championship title, next to the
Production 4WD Class Championships won in 2009 & 2010.
Little split the Mitsubishi’s of #777 Drew Corocan / Tony Nikora and #701 Geoff Pickering / Dylan
Watson heading into the final round. Behind on championship points, Pickering stamped his authority on
the final round early, while Corocan was forced to retire in the closing stages due to broken cab mounts
and crushed fuel lines in his Pajero. Leaving Pickering to take the Production 4WD Class win at Lockyer
and sneak home ahead of Corocan to take his 12th AORC Production 4WD Class Championship.
In contrast to Pickering and Rentsch, five teams won their first career national title in 2014. These
included Tony Fehlhaber for Prolite Buggy, Chris Browning winning his first Super 1650 Buggy crown,
Beau Robinson his first in Extreme 2WD, Paul Youman grabbed the #501 plate in Performance 2WD
and Clayton Chapman his first national Extreme 4WD title.
In the non-AORC categories, Aaron and Greg Nicoll took the Sportsman buggy class win at the TJM
Lockyer 300, completing 5 laps of the 51.5km course in their #346 Rivmasta. Aaron Phillis was the
quickest of the UTV’s in the #644 Polaris. Seventeen teams completed all 6 laps.