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“to promote a safe, fair and enjoyable family friendly series
with a focus on a transparent, open and professional
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Challenging Start to ARB Sunraysia 400
Friday, 21 April 2017
After an uncertain 24 hours, the Sunraysia Motor Sport Club have defied Mother Nature to bring together the second round of the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series, the ARB Sunraysia 400.

Rain began falling over the Keera Station course Thursday mid morning with 17mm of rain received in 24 hours. However, in excess of 40mm fell in the Mildura CBD resulting in the Mildura City Rural Council cancelling the use of the Norwingi Place Entertainment Precinct for the Show and Shine Scrutiny Display. Scrutiny was relocated to the Keera Station Start Finish Pit venue and with parts of the 100km course, which runs through clay pans, now also impassable, the enduro course reconnaissance was also cancelled.

The club then worked together, and after extensive track inspections, it was determined that to give the 70 plus competitors a race on Saturday and Sunday it would be necessary to shorten the course to 65km to remove the worse affected areas. “To look at the pit venue, you’d think the track would be near perfect, but the pits are on sandy soil and the back section of the track is grey clay. The rain, while creating a bit of manageable havoc today, will actually make for near perfect race conditions, with what was going to be an extremely dusty race, now going to be dust free for the first few laps at least until the cars break through the damp top layer” explained Murray Rogers, ARB Sunraysia 400 Clerk of Course. “The Sunraysia Motor Sports club members, as well as members from other ARB Series clubs, have pulled together to get the shortened track marked and ready for racing.”

“Saturday will see prologue reconnaissance, prologue and the top ten shootout run as originally scheduled. Instead of doing one lap of the 100km endure course, competitors will now do reconnaissance of the 65km track. The format for Sunday will be 6 laps of the 65km course - 390km in total - split into 2 laps, 45minute service break, 2 laps, 45minute service break and a final 2 laps.

The course was not the only thing impacted by the bad weather; numerous flights into Mildura were either delayed or cancelled, leaving competitors stranded. “I think we still have some competitors coming in on the early flight in the morning; I’m sure it’s been a stressful time for those teams dealing with logistics completely out of their control, but come race day, it will be worth it” added Murray Rogers.

With 70 teams now scrutineered and settling in for the night, tomorrow is set to be a top spectacle of off road racing. The complete podium from the first round of the 2017 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series, the ARB Town and Country Tyres Stackpoole 400, will all greet the prologue start lights come 9:30 Saturday morning. Andy Ryan and Dave Smith blitzed the field at round one by just under 7minutes to not only bank maximum points leading into this weekend, but also secured their first ever outright victory; something Ryan has been striving for his entire off road racing career. “They say the first win in the hardest to get; I’d have to agree with that. Let’s hope we don’t wait as long for the second one; chalking another one up this weekend would be great. We’ve had a big couple of weeks to get the Alumi Craft race ready and I can’t thank my crew and my family enough for all that they’ve done to get us here” explained Andy Ryan of HOT Motor Sports.

North Queensland’s Talbot Cox survived the ferocity of Cyclone Debbie a few weeks ago to now head south to take on the Keera Station course, looking to improve on his Stackpoole second outright at round one. Dale Martin and Adrian Rowe punched above their weight, taking on the higher powered Unlimited machines, to land the Class 1 buggy in third spot on the ARB Town and Country Tyres Stackpoole 400 podium.

2016 ARB Off Road Racing Series outright winners Marty and Alison Scott are again campaigning the series looking to be the first team in the ARB Series short four year history to secure back to back titles. With a number of the big guns of Australian off road racing entered this weekend, it’s going to be a battle of wits as they vie for outright honours at the ARB Sunraysia 400.

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Photographers: 4WDTV and Randall Kilner, Dirtcomp Magazine


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