Image: BRETT SANDELLS.
IT WAS RED HOT RACING – both on and off the track- for the first round of the 2017 CAMS Carnarvon Motel WA Off-Road Racing Championship.
The Gturbo Rod Hatter Memorial Perenjori 360 attracted a solid field of 38 competitors, including some of the discipline’s well-known names. And that experience paid off in dealing with the dry, dusty conditions in the searing 45C heat.
AORC level regular Travis Robinson announced his intentions early, posting a Prologue time 22 seconds quicker than his fellow competitors. Despite this impressive effort, it was young Stephen Ketteridge-Hall who got everyone talking when he lit up the timesheets to be second fastest and fastest Prolite. Scott Bryce charged hard in his Proformance Extreme 4wd to finish third outright and quickest in his class.
It was evident some were better suited to the conditions, with Colin Doney pushing the Extreme 2wd Beetle into 8th outright, and fastest Extreme 2DW. Graeme Bentink dominated the Production 4wd class in his Gturbo- powered Landcruiser to be quickest on prologue and 26th outright, while Dan Hawkins just edged John Flynn to lead the Super 1650 class.
Section 1 proved to be a battle of attrition. Scott Bryce was the first to surrender his place in the field, followed by Stephen Ketteridge-Halls whose promising performance came to an end when he clipped a barrier damaging the front suspension. Nathaniel Edwards pushed into Brad Cooper’s dust, until a sticky throttle caused a large loss of time.
The action continued right through the first day with Mark Cramer running the best part of a lap on a deflating tyre, and Mark Murray clipping a tree and damaging his Extreme 4wd Nissan Patrol. Peter Barrett in his #42 Pro Buggy also sustained front suspension damage which ended his campaign.
Prolite competitor Jared Percival steadily worked his way through the field from his section start of 6th, to end the day 1 minute 47 seconds behind first-placed Travis Robinson. Brad Cooper held third outright, while Brad Krepp led the Extreme 4wd class in fourth outright.
Greg Pickergill was one of the big movers and shakers of the first day, up into 6th outright and 1st in the Extreme 2wd class. Graeme Bentink led the Production 4wd class, while Dan Hawkins maintained a 39 second advantage over John Flynn.
Day Two of the Gturbo Rod Hatter Memorial Perenjori 360 saw competitors tackle Sections 2 and 3 – each comprising of two laps of the 60km course. With Travis Robinson holding the overnight lead, it wouldn’t take long for the action out front to heat up. The #13 Jimco pilot didn’t put a foot wrong, with the first two laps of Sunday’s racing extending Robinson’s lead. Jared Percival chased valiantly in his #119 Prolite. Third placed Brad Cooper was a shock DNF when the left front wheel parted ways with the vehicle.
The man on a charge in Section 2 was Nathaniel Edward, clocking in just 1 minute 28 second shy of the OBR pacesetters.
The Extreme 2wd class battle was heating up with Colin Doney timing in quicker than Greg Pickersgill, but Greg’s issues with the flex plate put an end to the class champion’s campaign. Brad Krepp continued to lead the Extreme 4wd field, with Graeme Bentink extended his Production 4wd class lead. The Super 1650 battle was over, with both Dan Hawkins and John Flynn registering DNFs. The section also claimed another couple of notable competitors, with Mitchell Davies retiring with a blown headgasket and Russell Cullen with engine issues.
The final two laps of the 2017 Perenjori 360 saw a hard-fought battle for the minor placings. Travis Robinson’s consistency saw him claim the section by just over a minute, ensuring him a comfortable victory. Nathaniel Edwards drove valiantly to place second. But not completing the second lap on Day One dropped him back through the outright placings. Jared Percival drove a smart and clean race to claim second outright and first in Prolite, and showed he’ll be a major contender this year.
It was a three-way battle for third outright, with Rob Collings, Marcus Wells and Mal Yeardley having one hand on the trophy, and Rob Collings getting there on corrected time. But a penalty for hitting a marker dropped him behind both Wells and Yeardley. Young ace Marcus Wells drove the wheels off his Razorback Pro Buggy, literally – eventually finishing the event with a flat front right tyre. As Yeardley pushed all the way to the line he fell just short of the benchmark set by Wells – an agonizing 3.79 seconds off third place.
Brad Krepp showed the consistency and pace which has made him a threat in the Extreme 4wd class by finishing 6th outright and first in class. A notable effort was put in by Dylan James who finished second in Extreme 4wd in just his second event. Colin Doney took out the Extreme 2wd event and a credible 7th outright in the blue #406 Baja, while event sponsor Graeme Bentink dominated the Production 4wd class by finishing 9th outright and 1st in class.
The Nissan Car Club of WA gives massive thanks to competitors, officials, volunteers, spectators, land owners, the Shire of Perenjori and our event and series sponsors, Carnarvon Motel, GTurbo Diesel Performance, Oricom UHF CB and Intense LED Australia.