The four round 2012 Australian Off Road Championship launched on the Sunday with the 39th running of the MBL Sea Lake Mallee Rally in north-west Victoria. In its return to the AORC, Sea Lake attracted an impressive field of over 110 entries, but after five laps of the 85 kilometre course, which loops around Lake Tyrell, it was Brad Prout in the #9 single seater Jimco that came out on top. Taking his maiden AORC round win in a time of 3:35:40.92, just 17 seconds ahead of Matt Hanson and Leigh Wells in the #7 SMU Jimco.
At the conclusion of the event, a relieved Brad Prout was happy to have finally taken his first AORC win after challenging at the front for a number of years. “It is great to finally have my first win. The track was fantastic, much better than I thought it was going to be after reconnaissance yesterday” commented Prout. “The car ran perfectly and the team did a great job, so we look forward to Goondiwindi”.
Hanson and Wells had started the day 30 seconds ahead of Prout and finished the race first on the road. However earlier in the day Prout had stopped to assist fellow racer Aaron Haby, whose car had an engine bay fire and was awarded 2 minutes compassionate time, which swept him to the outright win at the end of the day.
Leaving Hanson’s SMU Racing team agonizingly close to taking the outright win.
Completing the victory dais, in an event that only 36 of the original 111 entrants finished was the #178 ProLite Jimco of Lindsay Foster and James Lochert. Foster had trailed Matt Owen in his Alumicraft Prolite for much of the day, but when a broken axle ended Owens chance at the podium on the final lap, Foster stepped
After dicing with Foster for much of the day, Sea Lake locals Andrew McClelland and Murray Mott locked down second in the prolite class, ahead of the single seater Jimco of Rob Cowie in third.
In their first race on Australian soil, the Auckland based team of Raana Horan and Mike Connor charged from 11th on the grid to fourth outright, in the Big Black Motorsport V8 Nissan Titan. The Kiwi’s were also rewarded with the Extreme 4WD Class win, finishing 8 minutes ahead of Clayton Chapmans Pajero and Sandy Bowmans 6 litre V8 GQ Patrol.
Teams now return to their home base to prepare for round two of the Australian Off Road Championship, the Albins Off Road Gear Goondiwindi 400. held from the 3rd-5th of August. The event has moved from its traditional October date, in an attempt to avoid the heavy rain and flooding which has plagued the race in recent years.
Event Information can be found here.
Author: Randall Kilner
Source: Randall Graphics (PR Division) Pty Ltd
Photographer: Sean McTigue