2019 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship
St George - April 5-7    |    Finke - June 7-10    |    Rainbow - August 9-11

2019 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Championship
Mildura - April 26-28     |     Sea Lake - June 7-9     |     Griffith - July 5-7     |     Goondiwindi - Aug 16-18     |     Millicent - Sept 20-22

Crabb Racing Debut on Australian Shores
Saturday, 09 December 2017
Source: Toby Cooper

After years of competing in his homeland New Zealand, Richard Crabb and crew loaded up their trusty old Nissan VQ35 powered Chenowth #189 for its voyage across the ditch to Australia for the ultimate challenge.

Heading into the 2017 ARB season, Crabb Racing were entering the unknown. With different terrain, challenges and conditions from tracks in New Zealand, Richard’s main goal was to trial the Australian way of racing and to see if it was to be a viable option moving forward; they did not leave disappointed!

The team’s Class 1 machine touched down for the first round of the series in early March. Excitement and anticipation levels amongst the team were at an all-time high, as their Aussie debut at the ARB Town and Country Tyres Stackpole 400 was only days away. Kick-starting their Stackpole campaign with a 42nd placing in prologue an eye opener for Crabb and navigator Allan Enthwhistle. The pair had quickly grasped the difference in speed required between racing in Australia and New Zealand; the challenge was real.

Sporting a fresh set of Hercules Tyres, Crabb Racing commenced their seven 60km laps early Sunday morning in cool, overcast, and dusty conditions in 33rd position, after the grid had been reshuffled into two separate races.

As the team battled the harsh, fast Stackpole terrain with brake and gearbox issues arising throughout, Crabb guided the #189 home 18th on road to complete a gruelling 5 hours and 21 minutes on track. The result saw them finish in 30th outright for the weekend and 10th in the Class 1; a tremendous effort in their introductory event to off road racing in Australia.

The 2017 ARB Sunraysia 400, located 50km out of Mildura was next on teams agenda; in extremely wet conditions Crabb piloted the Chenowth home in 27th; a challenging prologue run to say the least. A tough six laps of a shortened 65km circuit awaited them on Sunday. As the track dried up in places, and the dust began to rise across a majority of the wide, fast, open spaces of Keera Station, Crabb quickly found his groove.

A second checkered flag in as many events would soon follow for Crabb as he crossed for a hard fought 19th outright and 6th in class; which moved the #189 to 10th position in the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series leader board.

After missing the June long weekend’s Sea Lake Mallee Rally due to prior engagements, Crabb returned to the Erceg Motorsport base in early July in preparation for the Riverland Enduro at Waikerie, though this time with a twist. Two rounds into the Australian adventure and Crabb was adamant racing abroad was something he wanted to do so he made the bold move to purchase the ex- Hayden Bentley Racer. Crabb’s decision to bring the #98 Holden 3500cc Twin Turbo powered Racer Engineering single seater to the track mid season was made easier by his ambitions to have a red hot crack at the 2018 series.

The transition required a massive shift in driving technique for Crabb, who had never experienced such power, speed and smooth handling of the Racer, adding to the challenge of unseen tracks.

Waikerie was the Racers first hit out, and in the wake of a spectacular Show N Shine display at scrutineering, 99 crews converged on the Riverland layout for Saturday’s prologue. Unfortunately for Crabb a soft rollover on the first corner ended his qualifying run, though with 300kms ahead of him on Sunday – there was plenty of time to make amends.

Subsequent to a flawless opening two laps, brutally demanding on the Hercule Tyres, Crabb managed to pass 15 cars to sit 28th at the service break. As the confidence grew through every corner, it soon took a hit, as a broken CV whilst launching off the start line for section two resulted in a forced stopover in the pits of over an hour. Crabb eventually returned to the track to complete full race distance, despite lingering fuel pressure issues 28th outright and ninth in a stacked Unlimited buggy class.

Crabb Racing were making friends everywhere they went in 2017, and their next outing at the Albins ARB Goodiwindi 400 was no different. Mechanically freshened at Erceg Motorsport headquarters, Crabb began his first melon hole experience at the Queensland border town nicely, prologuing in 32nd position. Unluckily for Crabb, a loss of brakes and the resurfacing of a fuel pressure problem during the lap on Saturday forced them to lose valuable time. The same electrical issue reared its head on Sunday resulting in the withdrawal of the #98 Racer early on lap one.

As the Kiwi flags flew proudly at the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro scrutineering for the ARB finale, Crabb Racing were confident their electrical issues were behind them at a cold and wet Millicent. A solid 16th position in prologue was boosted by a scintillating opening four 75km laps of the fast, rutted Pines circuit on Sunday. A transmission drama on the final lap meant Crabb was unable to select any gears, though was still able to cross in tenth place for the section and 20th outright for the event, after missing Saturdays short course action.

Whilst their fantastic ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series campaign had come to a close, excitement levels continued to build within the Crabb Racing fraternity as they embarked on their first expedition to Western Australia in late October for the Kalgoorlie Desert Challenge.

The #98 racer was dialled in for its last hit out for 2017, able to stretch its legs out over the 150kms of desert terrain. Prologuing in third, Saturday’s opening lap would be completed without dramas, crossing to finish day one where they left, third position.

A flat tyre during Sunday’s first lap was changed trackside, and the reoccurring fuel issues dropped Crabb down into 18th position heading into the final 150kms. In a battling performance, Crabb regrouped and stormed through the field to the delight of his crew; in the process securing his best result of 2017, second in class and ninth outright their reward!

Crabb Racing have had an amazing 2017 being a part of the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series and the Australian off road racing scene. In a year of experimenting, experiencing new tracks and overcoming the biggest challenge of all, difference in track speeds, Richard and his crew will be back bigger and better in 2018 for a genuine crack at the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Championship silverware.

Richard Crabb would not be able to fulfil his off road dream in Australia without the continued sponsorship and support from The Workshop, Reef Sports, and Langley Autos plus the tireless efforts by his Crabb Racing team, Big Black Motorsport and the guys at Erceg Motorsport who have all made season 2017 possible.