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Champions... A Decade in Review – 2011 Part 2
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Wednesday, 13 May 2020
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Source: Toby Cooper for offroadracing.com.au
Photographer: Daniel (Boof) Ziembinski

July - Baroota

For the first time since Reg Owen powered his home built buggy to a win in 1980, the beautiful farming community of Baroota, which lies spectacularly between the Flinders Ranges and Spencer Gulf in South Australia, would host a round of the Australian Championship. Owned by former Finke and Australian Champion Hayden Bentley, the 65km track, well renowned for its technical mix of sand berms and faster flowing terrain, set the scene for another battle between the turbo V6’s and V8 powered machines.

A small but strong field assembled for Saturdays all important prologue dash, which was smashed by OBR’S Travis Robinson #13. Australian #1 Dave Fellows was close in second with True Build Racings Dan Auricht #2 just half of a second back in third.

Huge news from the opening stanza included a spectacular end to end roll by King of the Desert Greg Gartner #410 on the whoops just 100 metres from the start line; ending their hopes of an Australian title.

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Former Australian Champion Mark Burrows #21 was another to exit early with gearbox failure.

Dan Auricht #2 bettered his prologue time by 10 seconds to claim pole position for section 1. Perth based Robinson #13 had to settle for third after Andrew Pinto #5 rocketed through the order to slip into second. Bentley #18 and Glenn Owen #30 rounded out the top five whilst Fellows fell from second to eighth after a mishap in his Top 10 shootout run.

4225i_smThe opening two laps were frantically fast, despite finishing first on road Auricht #2 had to settle for second place after a blitzing performance from Dave Fellows saw him take the section by 40 seconds.

The OBR Jimco of Robinson #13 placed a further minute back in third ahead of two NSW crews Buddy Crowe #4 in fourth and Brad Prout #3 in fifth.

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Fellows #1 eventually held on for the narrowest of victories, extending his championship defence lead to a substantial 18 points with only two rounds to go. Auricht #2 crossed 38 seconds in arrears and was stoked to walk away with a second outright after making substantial changes to the Jimco with the addition of a torque converter after their Finke failure – moving themselves into second in the championship standings with clear intentions of snaring the #1 plate.

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In an extraordinary performance Alice Springs based Brett Taylor #31 looked at home on the flowing track in his V8 Aceco leaping from 27th on the starting grid into third outright at weekend’s end; 18 minutes adrift of Auricht – a deserved reward for their many trips to Baroota.

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The Nissan powered #128 Razorback of Aaron James continued his solid season with a fourth outright and class win, Greg Hicks #123 continued his good form in his Southern Cross from the Finke Desert Race to finish fifth outright and second in class ahead of the #104 Jimco of Wes and Bill Cowie in sixth outright

Tony Fehlhaber in the #138 Mirage was the first of a string of Queenslanders to greet the chequered flag, while Les Marshall was the fifth and final ProLite in the top ten, finishing eighth outright in the #105 Jimco. Fellow Queenslander Colin Hunter #801 took home another AORC class win in their Dodge Dakota, whilst Sunshine Coast’s Jared Melville #291 set an impressive pace through the rough and tumbles in the team’s Razorback to take their maiden AORC class win. In what proved to be a Queensland affair Rob Chapman #781 and Kevy Nott #418 were others to take class silverware back to the sunny state from a brutal weekend which saw 13 crews complete full distance.

September - Pines

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When the Australian Off Road Championship headed to Millicent in early September for the 4th round of the title chase, no one would have imagined it would once again become the championship finale; therefore no one knew the importance of success in the Tantanoola State Forest.

Fellows #1 took to the Teagle’s Quarry with a large lead and was looking to shut the door on the championship at the Pines; Auricht #2 was his nearest rival and despite his huge rollover in 2010 was eager to set up an epic deciding round.

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Perfect weather greeted the competitors on the opening day of the iconic Pines Enduro in South Australia, where over 5000 spectators stood tall watching the Quarry come alive with the roar of race engines. Dan Auricht #2 fought off his early demons by snaring the prologue win, holding off long time Pines campaigners Mark Burrows #21 and local competitor Carl Haby #56 in third with only seconds separating them.

The Top 10 shootout followed and, with no surprise, Peter Kittle Motor Sports’ Dave Fellows #1 stormed from his fifth placing in the prologue into first outright after the shootout, putting him alongside Mark Burrows #21 in the traditional two at a time start on Sunday. Carl Haby #56 held down his spot in third place with 2010 third place getter Jason Corless #15 and local Bob Strawbridge #16 were notables to DNF the opening day.

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Fellows and Bergamin #1 left off where they finished their 2010 Pines campaign on the top step of the podium; with a vast improvement in the weather, Fellows defended his title in style, claiming his eighth outright victory at AORC level in the past 13 events. Fellows may have led the event on road across the full six laps however, he did not have it his own way. Justin Anderson #75 blitzed the field on the opening lap before Matt Hanson #7 took over command in his Jimco; overheating dramas ended Hanson’s run on lap 5 whilst Anderson’s Pines dream ended heartbreakingly just outside the quarry, leaving the door ajar for Fellows to pounce on the lead which he never relinquished.

Fellows cruised the final two laps in one of the closest battles all season to extend his championship lead to 23 points, later proving to be the final nail in the 2011 season.

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Aaron Haby #57 began his love affair with the Pines Enduro with a spirited second outright after an ultra consistent weekend’s racing, whilst the inform Danny Auricht #2, who sat outside the top five for a majority of Sunday’s action, stormed home late to finish over a minute back in third. Mark Burrows #21 crossed in fourth, six minutes clear of fellow Victorian Matt Coleman #55 who rounded out the top five in his Alpha.

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Local Prolite hard charger Wes Cowie #104 had an off first lap however, things turned around quickly from there, piloting the Jimco home in sixth outright and for his maiden AORC class win. Carl Haby #56 had the podium celebrations in his sights before a power steering pump failure dropped them to seventh, only seconds ahead of Extreme 2WD champion Greg Gartner #410 who did an amazing job to turn his Ford F150 around so quickly after his dramatic Baroota roll.

Darryl Smith #201 grabbed the Super1650 lead from Cameron McClelland #298 late in the day to snare another AORC round victory; Championship veteran Geoff Pickering #702 collected another Production 4WD title after a hard fought win which started side by side with his closest rival Rob Chapman #781, whilst Perth based Russell Cullen claimed a well deserved Extreme 4WD win.

Unfortunately, one of the most anticipated final rounds in memory was over before the drivers could select first gear. A wild storm lashed Goondiwindi after Friday nights’ scrutiny in mid-October, leaving organisers with no choice but to cancel the event, and relegating the first four rounds to count for consecutive seasons.

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Dave Fellows and Mark Bergamin #1 were brilliant once again in a dominant display in consistency; preparation and team work; claiming back-to-back AORC titles for Peter Kittle Motor Sport in emphatic style with outright victories at Hyden, Baroota and Millicent. Danny Auricht #2 rocketed his mid mounted V8 Jimco finished second outright for back-to-back seasons after another terrific showing throughout, whilst Finke Desert Race winners Greg Gartner #410 was a worthy recipient of the #3 plate for the 2012 season; finishing 12 points adrift of Auricht.

Aaron James #128 had his best season to date finishing in fourth outright ahead of a tie for fifth between Wes Cowie #104 and Matthew Coleman #55.

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Western Australian Russell Cullen #883 made the long trek from Perth to Goondiwindi for no action however, he managed to accrue enough points to take the #801 plate back to the west for the first time on his V8 Patrol courtesy of a strong finish at Finke and a huge class win at the Pines – making the trip worthwhile.

North Queensland’s Geoff Pickering dominated the Production 4WD class despite missing the opening round, likewise Craig Weaire #532 in the Production 2WD category. Gartner scored the Extreme 2WD championship after a rollercoaster of a season whilst Murray and Jake England #333 took the Sportsman buggy honours.

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Darryl Smith #201 defended his 2010 Super1650 AORC crown after a great battle with Jared Melville #291, whilst Mildura based Aaron James #128 proved too solid for Wes Cowie #104 adding the Prolite title to resume in the team’s Razorback.

If they thought 2010 was the year of Peter Kittle Motorsports, many would argue that 2011 was their greatest achievement. With three outright victories to Dave Fellows culminating in back-to-back Australian Off Road Championships plus a second outright to team mate Andrew Kittle #14 at the Finke Desert Race, 2011 would prove to be the last straw in a period of extraordinary dominance.