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Rentsch Dominates ARB Sunraysia 400 Day 1
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Saturday, 22 April 2017
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The sun rose over Keera Station to a foggy, yet fine, backdrop at day one of the ARB Sunraysia 400, the second round of the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series. First order of business was the prologue, and an action-packed prologue it was.

Shannon and Ian Rentsch, in their first competitive outing for the 2017 racing season and sporting a new impressive livery, topped the prologue time sheets, pulling a whopping 23second gap over second placed Aaron and Liz Haby. Rentsch then went on to better his time by a further 8.7seconds in the Albins Performance Transmissions Top 10 Shootout to score pole position for Sundays main race.

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The husband and wife team of Aaron and Liz Haby held onto their second place prologue, knocking 20.34seconds off of their 8m35.976s prologue time.

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The Top Ten Shootout was kind to Raana Horan and Klem Christiansen, one of the two New Zealand entries here this weekend, moving from prologue forth position to third after carving 19.74seconds off their time in the shootout.

Mark Burrows and Colin Hodge were 13.67s quicker in the shoot out, however, not quick enough to hold third place from the prologue, the multiple off road champion now starting out of fourth position come race green.

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Tyler Owen, stepping up from his Funco Super 1650 to Uncle Matt’s #41 Alumi Craft put in a stellar time to round out the prologue top five, however, dropped back to ninth after breaking a sway bar in the top ten shootout and clocking in a slower time by 1.9seconds.

70 teams were set to contest the prologue with 59 crossing the finish line. All was running to a reasonable plan, with the exception of some mechanical issues in the earlier classes, when the Class 4 beasts strolled up to the start line.

Brad Gallard and Brett Lehmann blasted off the start line; the #454 Geiser Brothers Trophy Truck always a crowd pleaser; when 3km into their qualifying run, the black beast went up onto two wheels going around a corner, the front right nurf bar dug in, flipping it over the fence. Both Gallard and Lehman were unscathed and the only damage to the newly rebuilt Geiser Brothers Truck was a bent roof number. Gallard applied for seeding into the start order for tomorrows six laps.



The next car to start the prologue was Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings, who were as expected, the first on scene at Gallard’s rollover. Gartner and Jennings stopped to render assistance, as did Hayden Bentley, and as such were given reruns of the prologue. Gartner and Bentley left the start line after #413 Mark and Taryn Foster in the sole VW Beetle entry. Unfortunately, for the Fosters’ the #413 machine had a soft roll onto its side at the 5km mark. The crew were unharmed and have been seeded into the start order.

Gartner and Jennings fronted for their rerun and were hooking along when they came unstuck 100m from the finish line in the whoops section, rolling several times before coming to a stop on their side. Gartner and Jennings got out of the Ford F150 #410 and were having a good chuckle when Gartner said “well that was the best rollover I’ve had”. And there’s been a few.

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Lady Luck turned her back on Jason Richards and Brent Anderson today; the #119 ex Luke Erceg Chenowth suffering drive shaft failure during prologue reconnaissance. After being recovered to the pits the team borrowed a drive shaft from Andy Ryan, enabling them to greet the starter for the prologue proper. Unfortunately, the opposite drive shaft let go on the start line, and again under tow from recovery. Borrowing the last of Andy Ryan’s spare drive shafts, the Chenowth was repaired and took to the track for the enduro course reconnaissance. However, just over half way through the course, the #119 machine had the last say when the engine gave up, ending their ARB Sunraysia 400 campaign.

Glenn Owen and Matt Ryan had a similarly unfortunate Saturday, suffering an electrical gremlin in the #30 Jimco and not making it past the first corner on not one, but three occasions. Prologue reconnaissance was the first time Owen and Ryan sought the services of recovery after the Jimco ‘just stopped’ within sight of the start line at the first corner. Prologue proper did not fair any better with the #30 machine back in the hands of recovery. Enduro course reconnaissance saw them parked trackside at the end of the first short straight, and again back in the care of recovery. A few tests runs later and they think they have the problem sorted, but Sunday’s 390km race will be test.

The ARB Sunraysia 400 roars back into action at 8:00am Sunday morning when the remaining 69 teams will hit the track for 6 laps of the 65km Keera Station course. Stay up to date with live results on offroadracing.com.au

Photographer: Gartner Rollover - Jeff Newick Mickey Thomson Tyres
Photographer: Andrew Stott
 

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