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Battles brew as Mannum nominations roll in
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Itchy feet South Australian off road racers will finally get their chance to hit the track at this weekend’s running of the first round of the South Australian off Road Championship at Mannum in the Riverland region of South Australia.

With 27 nominations already received from three states, the battles for line honours are brewing across all classes.

The summer off season has been longer than normal for the southerners with the cancellation of their last event on the 2011 calendar and the postponement of the first event for 2012. That said, car preparation and off season workshop time will be the tell all, with the second round of the South Australian Off Road Championship at Baroota a late addition to the calendar, and only two weeks after the Mannum round 1 event.

The track is marked, the hot showers are running and the clubs have put in an inordinate amount of work fine tuning the track. The Haby brothers have generously handed their land over to the event and have spent most of the summer months doing maintenance and improvements to the course. They’ve been through the track with heavy machinery, pulling rubble into the dusty patches and excavated a new section of half kilometre track down an escarpment which ducks through a creek bed, joining up back up with the track.

The question that will be answered by the end of Sunday’s racing; can the Haby brothers and the Element Racing Team continue their extraordinary form from 2011 and who can stop them? The nomination list as of Tuesday 10th stood at 27 with the cream of South Australian off roaders entered with seven interstaters thrown into the mix.

Leading the charge to the front will be long time off road campaigner Bob Strawbridge with daughter Courtney Peake in the navigator’s seat of their Southern Cross Mk6 #16 Pro buggy with the quick peddler Wally Francombe complete with an upgrade to an AGB sequential box in the Rids Race Frame machine #42 looking for a consistent run.

Throw in Ivan Schmocker #33, Andrew Oliver #88 and Victorian Mark Hannaford #37, and Aaron #57 and Carl #56 Haby will have a tough start to the year. The dark knight likely to upset the South Australians apple cart is the Chev powered Alpha #55 of Victorians Matt Coleman and Shawn Teagle; Coleman using the event as a shakedown for the Tatts Finke Desert Race but also looking to bag South Australian points.

The ProLite battle will be on from the drop of the green flag with Luke Erceg debuting his rebuilt Chenowth in the class and Northern Territorian and 2010 South Australian Off Road Champion Andrew Mowles wanting reclaim the championship title for 2012. Chris Johnson #122, Daryl Nissen #164, Lindsay Foster #178 and Andrew Fitzgerald #109 will be hot on their heels and with Warrnambool’s Matt Owen doing everything within his power to get the #130 race ready, the ProLite class will be one watch.

An even split of locals and interstaters are registered for Super 1650 with Ken Philp #211 and Andrew Stoddart #286 representing Victoria and Darren Greening #268 flying the flag for the Northern Territory.  It will be up to David Adams #274, Nev Day #286 and Tyson Proud #282 to keep the class silverware in their home state.

Numbers are down for the tin top classes with three entered so far in Extreme 2WD and two for Performance 2WD. Luke and Daniel Hall are the lone Extreme 4WD nominations with the class rewards set to cross the border to Victoria.

Perfect racing conditions are forecast and with racing on both days, who has the grit and determination to break the stranglehold of the Element Racing Team on their home turf.

1243c_smThe Mannum Enduro is jointly promoted by the Adelaide Buggy Club and Spencer Gulf Off Road Association, with both clubs looking forward to staging a memorable start to the 2012 season.

To whet your appetite, visit the YouTube trailer.

Supplementary Regulations, Competitor List and Event Information can be found here.

Photographer: Daniel Ziembinski (Boof)

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