Shannon and Ian Rentsch have successfully defended their Australian Off Road Championship crown after winning their seventh career Aus #1 title behind the wheel of the Hogs Breath Cafe / BFGoodrich Tires Jimco at the TJM Lockyer 300 in Queensland last weekend.
Equaling the record of legendary Pro Buggy steerer Mark Burrows, the reigning champions secured their seventh title on what is the 10th anniversary of their first Championship victory back in 2004. The father and son team have won Championships back-to-back starting from 2004-2006, then 2008-2009, and now 2013-2014.
Heading into the weekend, three competitors were in contention for the title, including Rentsch, Tonka Outer Bounds Racing’s Beau Robinson and Ken Skinner (#402) and Rhodes Racing’s Jack Rhodes and David Pullino (#91).
Rentsch started the weekend in front after winning their first pole position of the season, ahead of championship rival Jack Rhodes and local hot shot Michael Collins in the #12 Chenowth.
“We knew the prologue would be important here because it was dusty and tight. We decided to go for it and won the prologue” said Rentsch.
Rentsch maintained the upper hand during Saturday afternoon’s first two lap section. Setting up a 13.4sec lead over Rhodes heading in to the overnight break. Meanwhile the #138 Karcher Prolite of Fehlhaber and Howell had been one of the big movers of the day, leaping from 6th on the grid to third on the road.
On Sunday morning Rhodes bounced back during section two, and blasted away from the start line for the final two laps with a slender lead on Rentsch.
“It’s been close between us all weekend” said Rentsch. “Going into the last two laps there was only 5 sec between us and it was going to be on for young and old and an exciting finish. But unfortunately for Jack he got a flat tyre and it took the pressure off us. ”
Shannon and Ian Rentsch crossed the finish line in an overall time of 4 hours 32min 51.247sec to not only take the outright win at the TJM Lockyer 300, but seal their seventh AORC title. It was the Victorian team’s fifth straight podium finish and third outright event win this year, including the iconic Tatts Finke Desert Race and the Pedders Suspension Coffs Coast 400.
“It was great to get a seventh championship win. It is a little but hard to believe we have equaled Mark Burrows record of seven AORC titles. Mark is someone who we have always looked up to from the start” said Rentsch.
Run on private land at Mulgowie, approximately 100km west of Brisbane, the Lockyer Valley’s dry and dusty conditions tested competitors to the limit as they threaded their way through the tree-lined course.
After 300km of racing it was Jack Rhodes and David Pullino who finished second outright in the #91 Jimco. A flat tyre just 2km into the final section when they were leading the race robbed the South Australian team to secure their second AORC win of the season.
In the outright championship chase, South Australian Jack Rhodes locked up second overall for 2014 with his second place at the final round, the TJM Lockyer 300. In his best AORC season to date Rhodes went from strength to strength, securing his first AORC podium, second outright at the Tatts Finke Desert Race, before taking his maiden outright victory at round 3, the Toyo Tires Riverland Enduro in South Australia.
“The result this year in the championship to get second is awesome. It is great to give something back to the team who put so much in to support it all. Hopefully this year has been a stepping stone to maybe some more higher finishes next year.”
Source: Randall Kilner, Randall Graphics (PR Division) Pty Ltd
Photographer: Randall Kilner