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2020 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Championship
Sea Lake - June 5-7     |     Griffith - July 3-5     |     Goondiwindi - Aug 14-16     |     Millicent - Sept 25-27

2020 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Australian Off Road Championship
St George - April 3-5    |    Finke - June 5-8    |    Loveday - July 10-12    |    Rainbow - August 28-30    |    Kalgoorlie - October 23-25

2019 Finke Preview
Thursday, 06 June 2019
4104a_sm Source: Toby Cooper
Photographer: Corey Aldridge, Show 'n' Go Photography

We are in for another incredible Tatts Finke Desert Race for 2019. Yet again, the best of Australian off road racing has converged on the red centre to compete for the ultimate goal of not only finishing the great race, but claiming their own piece of silverware.

Round 2 of the 2019 BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off Road Championship kicks off on Saturday morning for the prologue dash, as teams will wind up the boost and make every corner count in the aim of securing the highest starting position possible for the sprint to Finke.

There is no doubt that on current form nine times Australian Off Road champions Shannon and Ian Rentsch are the clear favourites as they chase a remarkable seventh Finke Desert Race title. Shannon has been nothing short of perfect since the beginning of the 2018 season. Their ‘come from behind’ victory at St George, backed by a dominant sixth Finke title, and a maiden Rainbow Desert made it a year to savour. Turn the page to 2019 and things to date seem no different for the Warrnambool team, spearheading their season by another flawless St George campaign. The number #1 Jimco buggy is once again the car at the top of the field, with a third consecutive Finke title and a fifth consecutive AORC round victory well within their sights!

The annual talking point going into the Finke is of course the big contenders, Matt Hanson has been one of the more unlucky competitors over the June long weekend for some time, He’s had some early issues already in 2019 but if the SMU Jimco can hold tough, a major breakthrough victory at Finke is on the horizon. Possessing raw speed and an immaculately presented SMU Jimco, Hanson knows how to get the job done; former Australian Champion Hanson is the big wild card in the field this weekend.

One thing for sure is we are destined to see multiple trophy trucks in the hunt, Beau Robinson #413 in his GeiserBros Trophy Truck has been a major contender over the past decade, and with five podium finishes to his name; the Western Australian hard charger is closing in on a long awaited Finke title. Toby Price #487 has backed down from his ironman commitments with a clear focus on winning the cars section, and from his previous performances highlighted by a second in 2016 there is no doubt he is up for the challenge – an what an extraordinary achievement it would be.

2012 Finke champion, and multiple AORC podium getter Brad Gallard #454 has no fear and with over 12 months on the sidelines will be banging for another win. Multiple time Finke champion and last year’s runner up David Fellows #492 will be eager to play his part again in 2019, likewise two time champion Hayden Bentley #418 who will out to make amends for a disappointing opening round at St George.

You cannot go past the young guns especially in the Pro buggy class; look no further than Jack Rhodes #91, of course a former Australian Off Road champion himself, Rhodes has had multiple Finke podiums and after a slow couple of years due to other commitments he is set to enter the 2019 event firing. Josh Howells #3 is another young competitor who has had some big results on the national stage; third outright in the 2018 AORC and outstanding top 10 at Finke last year on debut has the Sydneysider in a prime position to strike in 2019. St George 399 runner up and 5 time Finke Champion Mark Burrows #21 looks like featuring once again in 2019 with his experience and consistency. Young Victorian Tyler Owen #41 is another to watch on his Finke debut, as well as North Queenslanders Talbot Cox #16 and Michael Marson #32 who finished fourth and respectively in their Racer Engineering machines last year.

Each class is instilled with a battle within a battle, and it is no more orchestrated then the SXS Turbo class. Last year’s AORC outright runner up Toby Whately #2 was superb in the season opener at St.George finishing third, and after a strong 15th at last year’s Finke a top 10 this weekend is well within his reach in the team’s Can Am X3. Jeff McNiven #602 has showcased his power in the class with some tremendous results over the last 18 months and will definitely be one to watch; Brett Comiskey #605 who races predominantly in the US, Nick Jackson #655, Rohan Williams #661, Phil Lovett #697 and Peter Carr #698 will too be ones to keep a close eye on.

2017 AORC Champion Matt Martin #103 will spearhead the Prolite division after a solid 13th outright at last year’s edition. Current AORC Prolite champion Alan Dixon #153 will be eager to overcome last year’s misadventures whilst Ally Howells #102 returns to the Red Centre in her new Jimco Aussie Special eager to get there and back like she did on debut.

Martin Motorsports is well represented in Alice Springs in 2019 with all three cars, Dale Martin #133 will be pushing his Tatum to the limits, whilst 2018 ARB Champion Brent Martin #120 will be doing similar things in his Jimco as they chase class and outright glory.

Last year’s Super 1650 champion Mick Crawford #230 leads the class out again in 2019, with 2018 AORC class champion Werner Zettl #232 leading the contingent of contenders, alongside Declan Cummins #210, Shane Waters #263 and newcomer Thomas Berry #246. The Sportslite class is too one to watch, Steven Graham #1065 was a man on a mission at St George, a fourth place finish a great way to commence their 2019 AORC campaign in his Tatum. On top of their 12th outright at Finke in 2018, the confidence is soaring at the moment amongst the Ten65 racing crew. Chris Sollitt #1063, Rod Visser #1057 and Patrick Geraghty #1009 will be others to watch.

Local competitor Rick Chambers #6669 will look to capitalise on his class SXS Sport victory at St George in the opening round with another strong performance, likewise John Wisse #6656 and Chris Land #6680. Last year’s AORC class champions Brad Geraghty #6609 will be amongst the class favourites so too will South Australian Mel Brandle #6677.

Geoff Pickering #701, 13 times AORC Production 4WD champion and 14 time class champion at Finke will look to improve his incredible record as he tackles the infamous whoops in search of another class win. Jodie Allen #778 was gallant in a closely fought contest with Pickering at St George and will be looking to get back one on the veteran at Round 2. Drew Corcoran #777 will also be one to watch in his Mitsubishi Pajero.

Chris Pickert #577, Steven Nicol #569 and David Beavis #599 will battle it out for the Performance 2WD silverware, whilst Matthew Witmitz #821 and Tadamitsu Nihori #881 will fight it out for bragging rights in the Extreme 4WD category.

The 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race is going to be another belter, out of the many storylines that could be written and many hard luck stories that will be told, there is one thing that is certain, there will be 147 hard charging competitors all vying for a slice of Finke history. Bring it on!!