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Wet and Wild at Kempton
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Darren Payne and Kerri Wallace have taken outright honours in the 2012 Huntington Tavern Wildest Off Road Dash at Kempton last weekend.

1349b_sm Round Two of the Tasmanian Off Road Series headed south on Saturday to the small town of Kempton north of Hobart on the A1 highway, a natural terrain circuit, used once a year, through what is normally farming land.

Competitors and officials were greeted with some tough weather conditions Saturday morning with temperatures being recorded as low as 2 degrees and reports of snow falling a mere 50km north of the circuit, add some light rain and things had to get messy!

1349c_sm Seventeen cars lined up at 9am for two laps of the prologue course - the first few cars out pioneers on the fresh grass and slippery muddy conditions.

Both Payne and Dale Newbon setting quick times until Luke Whelan unleashed the Mopar powered Pro Buggy topping the time sheets and relegating Payne and Newbon back to second and third respectively.

Heat one saw Payne take the early lead from the start in his V6 ProLite - short lived though as Whelan took control of the race on lap two and lead to the flag.

1349f_sm Newcomers Darren Bott and Chris Creely had a disappointing introduction to the sport, damaging the sump early in heat one in the teams Gen 3 GU Patrol, electing to retire rather than risk any engine damage.

Mike Males removed a rear arm from his Malco Pro Buggy courtesy of what would become a very popular strainer post. Terry Morice had a frustrating start to the day with several spins in prologue and two punctures in the first heat.

Heat two saw the gates open up and the field head out into the new section of track, once again under the guidance of Whelan followed by Payne, Scott Rockliff and Dale Newbon. Disaster struck mid race for Whelan, once again suffering from gearbox problems, sidelining the Pro Buggy for the remainder of racing.

1349d_sm The truck of Paul Quillam and Troy Mason introduced itself to above mentioned strainer post blocking the preferred race line and required the boys from recovery to assist in removal before continuing the heat.

Heat three started in the dry but by mid race the heavens were starting to open, however this didn’t cool down the battle at the front between Payne and Rockliff with lead changing several times but eventually once again the flag dropped for Payne followed by Rockliff and Newbon.

By the start of heat four the rain was coming down making track conditions challenging, the section of track heading up hill was removed for safety reasons shortening race distance and returning officials and drivers back to the fire pots earlier. To the surprise of several competitors Scott Rockliff had found a new set of tyres lying around in the pits during the break and found the grip the car had been lacking all of the event, setting some quick lap times in wet conditions and taking the heat win.

1349e_sm Dale Newbon’s day came to an end early into the heat with engine dramas, disappointing for the team who had been running in the top three all day.

At the end of the day it was Darren Payne #124 first outright and first in ProLite, Scott Rockliff #22 second home and first Pro Buggy followed by Michael Donohoe #125 third outright and second in ProLite.

The next round of the series heads east to the sunny sand dunes of St Helens on July 28th, many teams keen to get back on the sand to check car setup prior to the 40th Anniversary event in November.

Source: Michael and Marianne Donohoe, offroadracingtasmania.com.au
Photographers:  Off Road Racing Tasmania and R40 Media - r40media.com