2018 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship
St George - May 4-6    |    Finke - June 8-11    |    Rainbow - August 10-12                  

2018 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Championship
Griffith - March 16-18     |     Mildura - April 20-22     |     Sea Lake - June 08-10     |     Waikerie - July 13-15     |     Goondiwindi - Aug 17-19     |     Millicent - Sept 21-23

SMU... King of the Dunes
Monday, 25 February 2013
SMU Racing have started their Aus #1 defence year in fine form taking the outright win at Saturday’s running of the Harvestco Portland King of the Dunes Sand Enduro in sizzling 35 degree heat.

1736f_sm The SMU Jimco, wearing the #1 for the first time, saw Matt Hanson, with Dad Neil in the navigator’s seat for the first ten lap race, lead from the get go, blitzing the field. The second ten lap race saw the Aus #1 navigator Leigh Wells step back into the seat, the pair stamping their mark on the dunes from the first lap, leading the field to the checkered flag.

The stories doing the rounds of the SMU camp after the race is that Leigh may be out of the navigator’s seat for the rest of the year because Dad’s race time was 21 seconds faster than Leigh’s.

On accepting the outright trophy, Matt said that Portland was one of his favourite events. He went on to dedicated the win to Shane Cottee, a valuable member of the SMU Racing team, who is currently in an Adelaide hospital recovery from a serious New Year’s accident. Shane was kept up to date with the teams progress with his own personalised Skype stream to his hospital bed, commented by Glenn and Daren Wells. 

1736b_sm Another to come into their fore in the Discovery Bay sand dunes was South Australian’s Ivan Schmocker and Wayne Evans, taking their new Element Racing #56 out for its first competitive drive under the Schmocker Racing banner and racking up a second outright, 8minutes 36seconds behind Hanson and 3minutes 39seconds ahead of the husband and wife team of David and Alice Middlemiss #117.

The Middlemiss pairing are another team to watch in 2013 after their successful 2012 campaign with an outright win at the Griffith 300 in July and topping their achievements taking out the 2012 Victorian Off Road Championship.

1736c_sm The Hall Brothers Racing V8 Chev powered short base Nissan Patrol of Luke Hall and Scott Sage are relatively new to off road racing, but certainly stamping their authority on the class and the dunes with a fourth outright and first in class. They had been running as high second outright, but in the closing laps of the second race driver Luke Hall ran out of drinking water and started to suffer from dehydration, causing a gradual decrease in laps times, thereby dropping them back to seventh place for race two and a combined fourth outright overall.

Mark Heemskerk and Niki Collins clocked in some impressive lap times in the #276 Rivmasta to round out the top five at the Harvestco King of the Dunes.

Ian Middlemiss #139 clocked in consistent lap times to finish in sixth outright and second in class while Ian Fish and Colin Johnson #34 took out seventh outright and third in class. 

Craig Funston and Shannon Jennings #243 drove their Super 1650 consistently to take eighth outright ahead of the Tasmanian team Terry and Lisa Morice who made their long trip worth while with an Extreme 4WD class win in the impressive red Hulcar #477.

Rounding out the top ten was the South Australian pairing of Daryl Nissen and Andrew Harness $164 who were putting down competitively fast lap times but a miscalculation in the lap count saw the team head to the pits after nine laps, returning to the track to record the final tenth lap, but having lost valuable time. 

Andrew and Kelly Smith #216 drove their Southern Cross through all ten laps with Dean Williams and Scott McIness #357 not far behind in twelfth.  The Tamblyn family #268 finished in thirteenth while Joe and Thomas Garner clocked in in fourteenth in the Production 4WD #728.  The last competitors to complete all 20 laps was the Performance 2WD Datsun #567 of Preston North and Linton Badman. 

1736e_sm The mass start left spectators in awe as the field of 31 lined up across the dunes to head off to the horizon as the green flat dropped.  Of the 31 nominations, 15 teams completed the full race distance of 20 laps, totalling 200km, resulting in over 50 percent of the field unable to finish for a varied assortment of reasons.

The most common complaint, other than the heat, was flat tyres, with both the Havachat Racing Super 1650 #248 and Daryl Nissen’s Pro Lite #164 pitting on two separate occasions with deflated rubber. For team Nissen the first pit stop was after the rear tyre blew-out in sight of the spectators as they approached the end of a lap and while Nissen was running in second outright. Stevenson also had electrical dramas in race one, losing substantial time but the sand guru pulled out all the stops to record ten laps before the allowed race time expired, finishing race one on a flat tyre.

1736d_sm Jason Peel and Angus Vandepeer had a disappointing day in the dunes, the #444 V8 Chev Commodore Ute suffering crank angle senor issues. The team repaired the machine during race one ready for race two, but unfortunately didn’t manage a lap before the electrical gremlins reared their head again.

2012 podium finisher Sandy Bowan and Daniel Hardmen were unable to back up their 2012 performance with a blown engine on lap one, ending their day of racing earlier than most. The Extreme 4WD campaigner was not alone with Michael and Paul George #43, Aaron and Brett Blacksell #262, James Tyrrell and Jeremy Impink #828, all succumbing to engine dramas of varying degrees.

Young James Tamblyn with Dad Peter and sister Katie sharing the navigating in the #268 Hornet was running rough all day with the team pitting in the first race but returning to the track to record a finish. After putting down consistent lap times in race two with the Mazda engine still not running on song, the brother and sister combination got bogged on the last lap in sight of the finish line and an anxious Dad. Recovery were quickly on hand to extract the Hornet from its boggy state, to go on and cross the finish line, much to Dad’s delight.

Dean Russ and Rhys Watson put their #266 buggy to the test, suffering a gentle rollover on lap three in race one, breaking the front suspension and ending their day in the sand. Joe and Tony Carabott couldn’t resolve a stuck throttle in race on in the #51 Ace Cuda, putting an end to their day of racing, while Colin McLaren #127 was out on lap four with a broken stub axle.

Brett and Corey Smith had a disappointing start to the day with alternator dramas in the first lap of race one, the team regrouping to clock in the third fastest outright time for race two. Trent Gravestock and Jamie Jennings weren’t as lucky with the Bullet #133 suffering front end damage on reconnaissance and unable to continue racing.

Rod Visser was clocking in some fast lap times in the #157 Alumi Craft until gearbox failure on lap five put paid to his day at the Harvestco King of the Dunes Enduro. James Stewart and Wendy Ogden #132 recorded their ten laps for race one but ended their day in the first lap of the afternoon race with a flat tyre.

Event Information, including results, can be found here.

Photographer: Daniel Lamb